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When we reflect upon the Civil War 

b a twoon tho Nogthoji 

0P0 9 Unitod S tutoos with all the incalculable evils 

involved in those dread words, evils of which we do 

not yet see the end ; 

Upon the long complication of events and entangle- 
ments of our politics, running back through forty 
years^ which preceded and have resulted in them ; 

Upon that state of opinion and feeling at the South 
which had generated a growing Disunion party there, 
and prepared the minds of the masses of the people 
for it, when the occasion of culminating irritation 
should arise ; 

Upon that condition of opinions and of parties at 
the North, on the other hand, which had not only led 
it, in spite of manifold and unmistakeable warnings, 



to precipitate upon the country the very conjuncture 
of circumstances which was to awaken into flame the 
long smouldering revolution of the South ; but also, 
after the outbreak, in ominous earnest, of that orga- 
nized revolution by States, called Secession, frustrated 
all the efforts for pacification and reconciliation which 
were then urged upon the dominant party ; 

Upon the marvellous indifierence with which we 
have of late seen flung to the winds all the funda- 
mental ideas of American liberty, once supposed sacred 
and inviolable, such as freedom of the press, of speech, 
of locomotion, without those passports which even 
European despotisms are now discarding — immunity 
of the citizen from arrest by mere executive authority, 
and from domiciliary visits and seizures, independence 
of the judiciary in the execution of habeas corptcs^ and, 
finally, the inherent right of any and every great mass 
of human population, large enough for independence, 
to choose and change at will its form of government — 
all cardinal ideas heretofore supposed to be involved 
in Americanism ; 

Upon the spectacle of over a million of men in 
arms, for fratricidal war, sprung up as it were in a 
night from the fields of a " model republic ; " 

Upon a public debt already within a few months 
run up to an amount exceeding in annual interest half 
of the fabulous National Debt of England ; 

Upon the South defying even the entrance of co- 
lossal anti-slavery armies into its very cotton-fields, 
and destroying the stocks of its precious agricultural 


treasures, rather than submit to return into a Union 
once so beloved, once so exulted in, for the common 
national strength and dignity secured by it ; 

And upon the North brought to the point of 
threatening, through the fell resource of servile war, 
utterly to ruin the South, but at the same time to 
destroy one of the main foundations of its own indus-^ 
trial and commercial system ; 

When we reflect, I say, upon all this bewildering 
succession and combiniation of phenomena, which the 
world beholds, amazed and aghast, we are forced to 
admit, with astonishment, grief, and shame, that they 
point to the existence, in our political system, of some 
profound and before unsuspected defects, which have 
brought it to mch a result in its practical tcorkifiy ; 
some latent germs of evil co-existing with all its great 
elements of good, and operating upon men and upon 
parties, to inflame their passions, to distort their 
judgment, to poison the springs of the national life, 
in forms hitherto not well understood, or, at least, not 
yet brought out into clear public light. 


When some magnificent architectural structure 
crumbles in an instant into ruin ; when a railway 
train crashes suddenly to destruction ; we know that 
there were latent causes, in certain flaws or points of 
weakness, which it then becomes of the first necessity 
to discover before we can reconstruct. The great 


prin^ipl^ of instructive sdenoe, of which both were 

it illustrations, have not lost their 
truth, nor have the catastrophes shaken our faith in 
them. So too our faith remains unshaken in the 
broad fundamental principles of the American system. 
Republican liberty ; popular self-government ; written 
constitutions ; separation of the elements of political 
power — ^legislative, executive, and judicial ; continental 
confederation, the harmonizing of local self-government 
with national union and collective power ; — ^these, the 
great fundamental ideas of our system, remain still 
and for ever true, in their adaptation to hmnan nature 
and human society. Let us then investigate the flaws, 
which brought about the catastrophe, with a view to 
remedy and reconstruction. To attempt this is the 
object of this humble effort. 


Whatever may be the mutual recriminations of 
North and South, and our common confusion of 
opinions, it is certain that no such state of things, on 
80 grand a scale, involving millions of men in anta* 
gonism of minds and of action, could ever have arisen 
without more or less of mingled and entangled right 
and wrong on all sides. Guilt and crime are indi- 
vidual; millions are never wicked. The South has 
believed itself wronged ; its very action as the weaker 
of the two, its sacrifices endured and perils hazarded, 
and that degree of unanimity which, though it may 


not be absolute, is still a substantial and undeniable 
fact, suffice for the proof of this. The North, on the 
other hand, with at least equal intensity of feeling, 
displays the converse conviction. On both sides, good 
and honesty Christian and tender-hearted, brave and 
patriotic men, have gone into this tremendous conflict 
with solemn appeals to God, and in the name of all 
the most sacred principles of political truth and duty. 
On both sides, the women embroider, and the ministers 
of religion bless, the banners which are to lead their 
fellow-creatures to slaughter.* The best virtues of man 
have contributed, on both sides, even more than the 
worse impulses of his nature, to bring our common 
country to this fearful pass ; and they now constitute 

* The following was the form of prayer read in the varioua 
churches of all denominations throughout the Confederate States on 
the Fast-day, November 15th ; in the Jewish synagogues the name 
of Christ being omitted : — 

« Almighty God, the Sovereign Disposer of events, it hath pleased 
Thee to protect and defend the Confederate States hitherto in their 
conflicts with their enemies, and be unto them a shield. 

'< With grateful hearts we recognise Thy Hand, and acknowledge 
that not unto us but unto Thee belongeth the victory ; and in 
humble dependence upon Thy almighty strength, and trusting in 
the justness of our cause, we appeal to Thee that it may please Thee 
to set at nought the efforts of all our enemies, and put them to 
confusion and shame. 

*' Oh, Almighty God, we pray Thee that it may please Thee to 
grant us Thy blessing upon our arms, and give us victory over all 
our enemies, whoever they may be. 

** Preserve our homes and altars from pollution, and secure to us 
the restoration of peace and prosperity ; all of which we ask in the 
name of Jesus Christ our Blessed Lord and Saviour, to whom, with 
Thee the Father, and the Holy Spirit, we will give all the praise 
and glory in time and throughout all eternity. Amen and Amen." 


the most difficult obstacle, to extrication from it. 
Each, blind to the ppopogolio S' of truth on the anta- 
gonistic side, of error on their oyn, believe themselves 
to be fighting God's baftJ^iana Sathe diflferent sides 
of the same fields of fratricide flow twin streams of 
the noblest human blood, both freely shed in the 
highest spirit of patriot heroism. 

In the first executive order of the Secretary of War, 
" by order of the President," of February 14th, 1862, 
the war was truly described as " based on a conflict of 
ideas'' That very phrase involves all that has been 
here said. It implies antagonism of convictions, and 
of consequent supreme duties difierently understood. 
Let us put ourselves for a moment, whatever may be 
our particular opinions, successively in the opposite 
positions of the two contending parties in this great 
strife, both our countrymen, both our brethren, both 
joint heirs with ourselves, and with each other in the 
sacred memories of the Revolution, and in the revered 
name of Washington. 


On the one side, the Federal soldier, (even when not 
belonging to that class whose humanitarian sympathies 
are inflamed by the slavery of a race regarded by them 
as natural equals in the capacity for liberty and con- 
sequent right to it,) looks upon the adverse array as 
that of wicked treason, unparalleled since that of the 
rebel angels, and aiming at the overthrow of the best. 


the freei^t and most beneficent of human governments, 
past, existing, or possible. He holds it unjustifiable 
by any provocation. He considers that a selfish and 
arrogant ambition alone has prompted the leaders of 
a factious minority in the State, after they had seen 
power pass out of their hands, through the naturally 
and fairly acquired preponderance of the North in 
population and wealth, to revolt against the govern- 
ment they could no longer rule, with a view to reign 
supreme in their own section, raised by revolution 
into a nation. He argues the doctrine of Secession 
to b& one incompatible with any future cohesion of 
nationality, or any possibility of government ; as well 
as a violation of the moral faith which in all republics 
must bind minorities to submission to the will of 
majorities, fairly expressed, through the covenanted 
forms, and modes of election and legislation. Arguing 
that the Constitution was adopted by the whole people 
collectively for the creation of a nation, he feels the 
sacredness of the highest kind of patriotic loyalty to 
rest on his cause, of fidelity to the beloved old fiag of 
the country, to all the oaths ever sworn to the consti- 
tution, to the memories of its great authors, to the 
numberless posterity, which, under its broad and 
sublime aegis, was to have developed, for the blessing 
and imitation of the human race, the grandest and 
happiest civilization ever yet witnessed on the face of 
the globe. No higher nor holier motives ever nerved 
the arm of man in war, or glorified the hour of 



On the other side, the Confederate regards the 
Constitution as having been virtually cancelled by 
Northern violation of the compact of union, of which 
it was the instrument; considers that, according to 
Mr. Webster's own words, " a bargain broken on one 
side is broken on all." Educated in the principles 
of the " State Rights " theory, as expressed in the 
Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1797 and 1798, 
uniyei*sally accepted by the South, and also long 
recognised as the political creed of the generally 
dominant party of the North, he holds the constitution 
to be, in its nature, and by virtue of the separate 
sovereign acts of accession of the successive States, a 
compact of confederation, and as such morally obli- 
gatory on the one side, so long only as faithfully 
observed, in spirit as well as in letter, on the other. 
When thus violated, he holds the original parties to 
the compact to be necessarily relegated to their ante- 
cedent sovereignty, a sovereignty never abandoned 
except on the points stipulated in the compact; in 
regard to which points it was only suspended by 
delegation, to revive in full force, and by indefeasible 
right, on the expiration of the compact, whether 
through consent of both sides, or through wrongful 
violation by either. He believes that case to have 
now actually arisen. He believes the Federal power 
to have been, in fact, long abused, through a system 
of unequal taxation • for the benefit of a sectional 


maDufacturing and mineral interest, to the unjiist 
oppression of his purely agricultural section ; a system 
through which the South has long complained that it 
was made to pay, in the form of enhanced prices, 
at least fifty millions of dollars a year, to swell the 
manufacturing profits of the North, and has been 
gradually alienated in heart from the Union, under 
which it saw maintained such a violation of the spirit 
of the constitution. In the actual legislation of many 
of the Northern States for the frustration of the pledge 
in regard to fugitive slaves, he sees a violation, open, 
flagrant, and defiant, at once of its spirit and letter. 
In regard to his right of migration, with his accus- 
tomed domestic and social system and property, into 
the Territories, he sees further a scornful and insulting 
violation by the North of his constitutional rights, 
as they existed, not only in his own conviction, but 
also by the solemn decision of the Supreme Court, 
the recognised arbiter of disputed questions of con- 
stitutional law and right. 

In the policy thus proclaimed by the North, he 
sees himself not only excluded from any portion of 
the common territories of the Union; but also his 
section doomed, by arithmetical necessity, to such an 
accumulation of the rapidly growing black race 
within its existing limits as must result in an in- 
tolerable preponderance of numbers on the part 
of that race, with their eventual compulsory eman- 
cipation, and finally in the abandonment of the 
soil by the whites. He sees the Abolitionist element 


in the Northern opinion to have gradually risen and 
spread, from a small and despised beginning, until at last 
the whole North has seemed to have become so widely 
permeated by it, so strongly imbued with its spirit, 
that a great exclusively anti-Southern party has formed 
itself on Abolition as its peculiar and engrossing idea, 
and has projected^ne Pr^side^ial , campaign after 
another on that rovotuwo^arj^M success all 

but attained on the first attempt ; with complete and 
sweeping triumph in every Northern State on the 
second, in 1860. He sees that party embodied in a 
President and Secretary of State, the joint authors of 
that fatal phrase, the " irrepressible conflict," which 
involves the permanent menace of the destruction of 
slavery, to be brought about sooner or later, by means 
more or less direct, through the ascendency of the 
North in the, Federal Government. He has heard Mr. 
Seward, the representative man of that party, address 
his Northern audiences with the ominous words : 
'^ Slavery must be abolished, and you and I must do 
it." He sees the bulk of the prominent representatives 
of that party in Congress, to the number of sixty-eight, 
including that same Mr. Seward, endorsing and re- 
commending for circulation, as a party document, a 
work replete with every exasperating insult, scoffing 
scorn, and even bloody menace to the South, and 
declaring that " our purpose is as fixed as the eternal 
pillars of heaven; we have determined to abolish 
slavery, and, so help us God, abolish it we will." He 
sees not a few of the influential organs of that party 


expressing an andisguised sympathy with the fell and 
fatal fanaticism of John Brown ; and a governor 
elected in the leading State of New England, who had 
presided at bis apotheosis. 

Already, in the Chicago plan of arresting or hem- 
ming in the natural growth of the slaves, he sees the 
first step towards the accomplishment of this threat- 
ened destruction of slavery through the power of the 
Federal Government, in a mode, not indeed immediate 
and direct, but both sure and fatal, like that French 
method of destroying a hostile Algerian tribe, not by 
direct attack, but by suffocation in a cave whose 
entrance is closed with burning brushwood. In all 
this he sees the Federal Government transformed from 
its original character, as the central power of a fraternal 
confederation of States, equal in dignity and in rights, 
into a political machinery for the domination of the 
weaker by the stronger of the two sections ; a domi- 
nation openly exercised under the mere letter, but in 
direct contravention of the spirit of the Constitution, 
on a principle not only profoundly insulting to all the 
national sentiment of the South, and contemptuous of 
its strongest convictions, but directly tending, and 
avowedly aimed towards a result destructive of the 
whole social system of the South. In all this he 
sees, as abeady said, a virtual abrogation of the com- 
pact of the Constitution, superadded to those other 
minor violations of its spirit and letter of which long 
before he had been loudly and bitterly complaining; 
injury culminating in insult, and crowned with 
menace — ^menace of most fatal bearing, all uncon- 

14 UHIOH, DismnoH, aud bcuhiok. 

stitutional, all intderable, and aD incompatible with 
peaceful co-existenoe in the same confedoation. As 
the brave and high-spirited White Man of the Sonth, 
he feels himself therefore to possess a far stronger caae 
for rightfol separation from a mere Confederate nnkm 
with the North, whether r^arded as reyolation <nr as 
legitimate secession, than existed in all the com- 
paratively petty grievances which prompted and 
justified the original separation of the colonies from 
the mother country. That point reached, and reached 
sincerely according to his profoundest conviction, he 
sees in the subsequent invasion of the South for its 
subjugation, under the form of restoration (tf the Union, 
nothing but a wanton, cruel and unrighteous invasion 
for the enforcement of an aUen, usurpatory and detested 
tyranny ; an invasion in itself subversive of the once 
fundamental American idea of the right of self-govern- 
ment, and inherent sovereignty of the mass of any 
people large and strong enough for independent 
nationality* He therefore, on his side too, fights the 
battle of self-defence in all the spirit of the War of 
the Bevolution, for rightful independence, for freedom 
from a hated yoke, for the protection of home, hearth, 
and country, for the dignity of humanity, and for the 
existence of his race. 


The opposite points of view of the two sides have 
here been fairly stated, without any attempt to con- 
fute whatever may be erroneous or exaggerated in 


either. However blind each side may be, in the 
passionate madness that rules the hour, to the sin- 
cerity of the converse convictions of the other; 
however I may be charged by either with colouring 
too favourably the opposite case ; this is, to my best 
ability, the truth of the present page of history. It 
is, indeed, the mere elaboration into detail of all that 
is more succinctly signified by Mr. Lincoln's own 
'^ con/lid of ideas.'* As honest, as sincere, as gene- 
rous, as self-sacrificing, as are the patriots on the one 
side of this most dreadful and most absurd of wars 
ever yet vritnessed by the world, so are they alike 
and equally on the other. And this is the worst 
feature of the whole case; for on neither side are 
Americans (the proudest and most self-governing of 
men, while inferior in bravery to none that have ever 
lived, when anipiated by such convictions and such 
motives) either easy to conquer, or easy to be kept 
long in subjection, even if for a time overpowered. 

If, then, we would indulge a hope of ever really 
reconstituting the Union, with any thought to its 
future permanence, we must find some means of 
putting an end to this fatally honest ''conflict of 
ideas ; " and of so amending our political system as 
to remove from it those elements in which we can 
trace the causes whose operation has culminated in 
this result. 

Those elements, while distinct, yet work together, 
blending their reciprocal influences, and the one 
aggravating the pernicious action of the other, so that 


it may not always be easy to consider them separately. 
Long familiar with the working as well as with the 
theory of our politics, I make out those elements to 
be, mainly, four in number, namely : — 

1. The excess of the Party System and Party 
Spirit, having its chief root in the enormous over- 
growth of the federal Patronage. 

2. The too great splendour and power, and too long 
inflexibility of the Presidential office. 

3. The indistinctness of the demarcation of the 
limits of power between the Federal and the State 
Governments ; an indistinctness resulting from that 
antagonism of minds which existed among the framers 
of the Constitution, and which was with difficulty 
compromised under vague generalities of language in 
the Constitution, with its supplementary amendments. 

4. Proceeding out of the last-named germ of evil, 
the Northern tendency to over-work and misapply the 
central Federal power, in modes calculated to alienate 
and exasperate the South, and fatal to the possibility 
of permanent confederation after the growth of the 
country to gi*eat dimensions of territory and numbers; 
those modes having been chiefly through their pro- 
tective policy, and their hostile interference with the 
great social question of Slavery at the South. 

I propose to consider these severally, though in 
treating of one it will not always be possible to avoid 
allusions to the combined influences of the others. 



All history testifies that Party, while the necessary 
condition, is the supreme danger of republics. In* 
separable as Party is from freedom ; useful as, within 
healthy limits, it is for promotion of pubUc discussion, 
elucidation of truth, and restraint upon the abuses of 
power ; yet, like fire, its excess is fatal. Like fire, too, 
its tendency is to excess. Every influence calculated 
to restrain that tendency, to preserve parties and party 
spirit moderate, and, above all, pure and unselfishly 
patriotic, ought to be earnestly cultivated ; everything 
tending to increase, intensify, and demoralize them, to 
be, as far as possible, reformed out of every republican 
system, especially when constituted on a very large 
scale of action. 

In point of fact, on the contrary, everything with 
us works as perniciously as possible in reference to 
this object. Not only has our Federal Government 
been so administered, heretofore, as to associate the 
pecuniary interests of vast classes, and great sections, 
with the ascendancy of parties, but also the enormous 
excess to which has grown the vicious influence of 
political Patronage, has come to identify the triumph 
of Party with the personal pecuniary interests and 
ambitions of too great and widely spread a number 
of individuals. The too splendid prize of the Presi- 
dency, acting on the imaginations of our great men, 
and^acting similarly on those of the countless swarms 



of lesser men, the too magnificent " scheme " of that 
great lottery of Patronage whose wheel is in perpetual 
rotation, with its grand national " drawing" every four 
years, and its minor State ones annually, have gone 
far, strong as is the element of patriotism in the 
American character and tradition, and general as is 
the difiusion of educated intelligence, to fever and to 
vitiate our politics to a degree almost subversive of 
the purposes of government — to a degree which has 
led an ex-President, and a thoroughly pure and 
honourable man, to say to me that "our Govern- 
ment, though originally the purest, was fast becoming 
one of the most corrupt on the face of the earth/* 

All our elections are Presidential or quasi-Presiden- 
tial. The former are always on hand, or approaching, 
and the same organized parties contend in the latter 
with reference to their indirect influence on the 
former. Every candidate for village constable has 
come to be the " Jackson " or the " Clay " candidate, 
the " Lincoln " or the " Douglas," whatever may be 
the combinations of the day in reference to that one 
centrally supreme office, which is itself the great main- 
spring of Patronage. All offices, great and small, 
being removable (to say nothing of contracts and 
other forms of profitable patronage), each is an object 
to aspirants whose real number is never known, more 
or less open, and more or less eager ; the triumph of 
Party, and prominence in it hy activity and zeal, 
being the one path to success. The vicissitudes of 
business and of fortune incident to a fluctuating paper 


currency, and highly elastic credit system, create 
swarms of persons to whose necessities party politics 
are the ready resource. Others, not similarly neces- 
sitous, yet engaged for excitement and enjoyment at 
the green table of the great national game, are little 
less eager, as even rich gamblers like to live by the 
stakes. To others again, under a system which makes 
the attainment of office in itself a proof of prominence 
and influence, in a country affording no other per- 
sonal distinctions, the great stimulus of vanity comes 
into play ; and the more effectually that the vanity is 
well paid with simultaneous profit. When to the 
Federal we add all the vast varieties of State and 
Municipal Patronage, which, in the working of our 
complex system, have been sucked into the wake of 
the former, and then consider the enormous number of 
aspirants, more or less open— and when we, further, 
take into account their interested relatives and close 
friends — ^we cannot estimate at less than half a million 
the number of persons who may be said, apart from 
patriotic interest in the best solution of the issues of 
the day, to have a direct personal interest, whetted to 
all the keenness of pecuniary craving, in the triumph 
of Party. 

Upon this, pile up still further the exciting influ- 
ence, acting upon an excitable people, of contest in 
any and every species of struggle or game between 
man and man, mass and mass, from parading a 
political fire-engine to manoeuvring a campaign for the 
destinies of a continent — an influence stimulating all, 



for the mere pride of victory, to resort to all means, 
short of the manifestly shameful, for its attainment, 
and we shall begin to form some conception of what 
the Party System and Party Spirit have grown to 
among us. 

The half-million or so, above indicated, take the 
lead — work the locomotive; the rest must needs 
follow in the train, in the great and perpetual race 
with the rival line. They are the loud, the active, 
the zealous, or at least the most so. Their breath or 
their inspiration fills the ceaseless public trumpets of 
the press, the " stump,'' and the tribune. They mould 
and manage the organization of party machinery, 
from the village or ward, up, up, through the 
gradations of county and State committees and con- 
ventions, till it finally culminates in the Presidential. 
They virtually make the elections, by prescribing 4n 
advance the party nominations, and constructing the 
" platforms ;" and demagogue inwudggCCi threatening 
mutinous '* bolt," or obscure noutrafiy , are often the 
most effectual titles to selection. 

All this goeO>etween the two rival parties, while 
at the same time another natural offshoot from the 
great tap-root of evil, Patronage, does not fail to 
follow, namely, subdivision of parties into sub-parties 
or factions, wheels within wheels, striving for that 
local ascendancy which shall secure clique nominations, 
and prior right, within the Party, in the distribution 
of the present or future " spoils." 

Patriotic sentiment, withal, is not wanting ; on the 


contrary, it is both strong and general. But confused 
amid the universal din of public discussion, and the 
natural self-delusions of interest and excitement, it 
serves less to enlighten and inspire, than to add 
another influence of stimulation; — all, meanwhile, 
believing (at least up to the fatal year of 1861) that 
no possible contingency of real danger could ever 
approach those foundations of rock, on which rested 
the grand structure of the common national prosperity 
and greatness. 

Out of all this has grown a never ceasing agitation 
and intrigue, tendmg towards the one great object, 
not the good of the Country, but the success of the 
Party. The higher ambitions of leaders and the 
minor aims of followers, with more or less of distinct 
self-consciousness or of partial self-deception, have 
thus all worked reciprocally together, to one common 
and general vitiation of our politics ; with a constant 
tendency of the management of the machinery of 
party to fall into the most violent and unscrupulous 
hands, locally absolute in influence, direction, and 
control — not always inaccessible to actual corruption, 
practicable upon occasional local leaders though im- 
practicable upon the large masses of universal sufirage 
— and, through the whole ramification of nominations 
and consequent elections, giving to all the departments 
of our Government more or * less of their own colour 
and character. 

During the past five and twenty years I have 
studied very closely the working of our Party system. 


as well as the theory of our institutions — have parti- 
cipated actively in it, on the local, as well as on the 
national scale — have known in it many of the best 
and noblest of men, and not a few of the worst and 
meanest — have been in the most intimate relations 
with Presidents and cabinets, as well as with the more 
minute wheels of the vast and complex machinery — 
have aided to dii'ect as much of its influence, and 
enjoyed as much of its honours as I ever care to— 
and I appeal to all intelligent Americans, whether the 
above is not, substantially, a true picture, with nothing 
extenuated, nought set down in malice. 


One of our most profound as well as patriotic 
statesmen — happily for himself spared the spectacle 
of to-day — 1 will add, one of the most devoted friends 
of the Union under the Constitution, the Constitution 
understood in the sole sense compatible with its 
durability, though many readers will smile sardonically 
when I name Calhoun — said five and twenty years 
ago that the Patronage of the Federal Government, if 
not itself destroyed, would end by destroying the 
Government. He added that I might live to see it, 
though he should not. It has brought about the 
catastrophe which he prophesied. 

Patronage — and by that I mean the excess of Party 
Spirit and the vitiation of the Party System which 
have their main root in Patronage — was the funda- 

. ^t 


mental cause of those party feuds which led to the 
division of the Democratic party in 1848 and 1860; 
the irreconcilable conflicts of cliques, and ambitions of 
leaders, becoming so embittered as to prefer present 
common defeat, consoled with hope of ulterior ascend- 
ancy, to concession to rival ambitions. 

Patronage, through the relations created by it 
between an administration and its party in Congress^ 
especially when that party is in majority there, has 
gone far towards breaking down the wall of separation 
intended by the Constitution between the executive 
and the legislative powers ; and to pervert the healthy 
action of the system in modes which I have no space 
to follow out, but which will readily occur to the 
memory of American readers. 

Patronage makes a President the autocrat of his 
party before its distribution, and the victim of its 
malcontents afterwards; besides absorbing three- 
fourths of that time and attention which he ought to 
be free to devote to the far higher duties of his 
quadrennial reign. 

Patronage enables a corrupt intriguer, after reach- 
ing the Presidency through the leverage of its pro- 
spective dispensation, to foment those discords within 
his own party, and those'aeiihor^ostility against for- 
midable competitors, which may promise to bring it 
to the period of the next nomination in such a state 
of distraction as may compel it to re-nominate him, in 
spite of hypocritical professions of nou-candidateship 
with which he may before have sought to propitiate 


other Presidential aspirants, and to gain moral 
strength with the people — (superfluous to point with 
a name the moral of this passage). 

Patronage, in large degree, gave rise to that long- 
continued ascendancy of the leaders of the South in 
the Democratic party, which cannot be denied as a 
fact ; which has contributed not a little to inflame an 
impatient sectional jealousy at the North ; and which, 
operating together with commimity of doctrine in 
regard to State Rights, has laid us open to the charge, 
with some truth and more exaggeration, of pro-slavery 

Patronage brought the great Whig party, after its 
final hopeless overthrow in 1852, to the fatal resort of 
that aectionality, with a view to victory through con- 
solidation of the majority North against the minority 
South, which, taking the new name of amalgamated 
" Republicanism," traced for the first time a broad 
black line of geographical division of parties, in spite 
of the warning of Washington's farewell address, and 
of Jefierson's memorable "fire-bell in the night;" 
and which, on the Philadelphia and Chicago platforms, 
raised the ominous banner of Anti-Slavery, at all the 
risk of the manifest peril to the Union involved in 
that course — a peril unfortunately not believed in as 
really possible ! 

Patronage, most powerful when all prospective, 
defeated all the efforts for compromise which, after 
the commencement of Secession in earnest, were 
urged till many of us almost sweated blood ; because 


effectual compromise involved concessions /a/o/ to the 
cohesion of party, incompatible with a party platform, 
and not consented to by a President and his chief 
councillors, chained themselves by the party sjrstem to 
the party platform ; from whom it was perhaps too 
much to hope that they should give the signal for 
the disbanding of a just victorious party by breaking 
with a controlling wing of it, when the latter exacted 
inflexible adherence to a position with which were 
identified a fanatical idea of that wing, and the 
common party existence and party future of the whole 
associated body. 

Had it not been for Patronage — by which I 
repeat that I mean that excess of Party Spirit which 
has its main root in Patronage — the series of events 
which, through the vitiated political action of all sides, 
has led up to Secession, would never have occurred ; 
and after its commencement it would have been 
arrested, easily arrested, by wise and timely com- 
promise. Party carried the day over prudence and 
patriotism, by blinding men's eyes to the fatal brink 
to which, already in the rapids, we were aU then 
swiftly borne along, through the working of a system ; 
and by exciting them to prefer the disbelieved chance 
of the supreme of evil to their country,* rather than 

* The following is an extract from a letter from a Bepubliean 
Senator at Washington, in response to a letter of appeal written when 
it was already late in the day (January 19th), and when many efforts 
had already broken down before the same insuperable obstacle. In 
it is heard a sorrowful sigh of the prisoner in the chains of the party 
system, which fettered the ability even of enlightened and well- 


consent to those concessions, to politically hated 
adversaries, which appeared to involve the dissolution 
of a party. Well did Mr. Calhoun predict that the 
Patronage of the Federal Government, if not reformed, 
would destroy the Government itself. It has destroyed 
it; — whether or not beyond recovery, is what yet 
remains to be seen. 


The remedy for this evil, at least, is simple and 
easy. If Patronage has been the alcoholic stimulant 
of ^ouTDolitici. not only used in enormous excess, but 
baa m quality , the remedy is to suppress it, as far 
as possible. The Confederate States have already 
had the good sense to apply that remedy in their 
amended Constitution. I hopb that fact will not 
prove an obstacle to its adoption by the North, what- 

disposed men to save their country in its hour of supreme need. If 
this should ever meet the eye of its writer, he will forgive this use 
of a ^ private" letter, on the assurance that its authorship remains, 
and will ever remain, confidential : ^Indeed, I have come to despair 
of saving the Union. One month ago, it might have been done. I 
fear it is now too late. The only question is how the seceded States 
shall be treated. Could the true policy be adopted, they might be 
brought back, ultimately. But I apprehend that incredulity, obsti- 
nacy, and every form of utter and astonishing folly will complete the 
work of destruction which has been so thoroughly begun." Very 
true, and very sage, and very sad ; but why did not the men who 
could thus write come out boldly, and strongly, and loudly with 
votes and speeches which, however they might have been denounced 
by their party caucus, and by a class of party politicians at home, 
would have saved the Union and their country ? 


ever may be the result of the present war, whether 
one single constitution be destined again to apply to 
the whole Union, or only to what shall remain after 
Secession. It is simply, to make all offices, except 
those of the cabinet, and perhaps a very few others of 
the highest category, subject to removal only /or cause, 
that is to say, misconduct or unfitness. The old 
Whig party ought to favour this reform. They used 
to charge the Democratic party with the chief respon- 
sibility of the practice (that is a point of history not 
w^orth examining now), and to reproach Governor 
Marcy as the author of the party phrase, that '' to the 
victors belong the spoils." This is our recognised 
rule of political war when one party succeeds the 
other in the possession of power ; the distribution of 
the general plunder of Patronage when the same 
party succeeds itself, by the election of a President of 
the same politics as his predecessor, being then called 
** rotation in office." These are twin phrases, of fair 
plausibility, which have been invented to cloak the 
same bad ugly thing, and for either of which we shall 
search in vain in the Constitution. Probably the 
framers of the Constitution never contemplated the 
practice, which, stimulated by the vehemence of party 
politics, a vehemence which other causes have also 
assisted to promote, has grown gradually out of the 
possession of power. No such practice having existed 
in their day, its future development and efiPects could 
not have been anticipated. It was a sunken rock, 
unknown to charts of that period. To that rock. 


more than to any of the other wftpdratiiig canscs, is 
the present wreck to be attributed. The leading idea 
of the framers was simply to intensify the President's 
individual responsibility for the execution of the laws. 
That responsibility I do not propose to weaken. He 
must stiU remain responsible for good appointments, 
and he will make them all the better when relieved 
from the pressure of those controlling party ** claims/' 
which are now enforced, chiefly, though not solely, 
through the members of Congress, as the represen- 
tative party politicians of the locality. The power of 
removal for cause will still hold him to the responsi- 
bility of the misconduct or unfitness of incumbents. 
All that is proposed is that he shall be required to 
state the cause, which must necessarily be other than 
mere difference of political opinions ; a ground which 
is in itself no sufficient reason for depriving thousands 
of families of their daily bread, and the public ser- 
vice of the skilled experience of good officers. In 
truth there is no real reason why the practice in 
question should exist in regard to civil functionaries 
any more than in regard to military and naval, or to 
public employes, any more than to those of our 
thousand of private, commercial, and industrial esta- 
blishments ; — for why should not military and naval 
officers be replaced out of the militia and merchant 
marine services, on party grounds, as well as the civil 
officers of the Government out of the general mass 
of politicians? Whichever of the two parties may 
have begun, both have equally adopted it. The 


practice is in itself vicious and pernicious, and the 
sooner and the more completely the power is taken 
away the better. A great step of improvement will then 
have been taken towards perfecting the Constitution, 
purifying our parties, and raising the tone of our 
politics. Had this step alone been earlier taken. 
Secession would never have occurred in our day. 


Directly connected with the evil of Patronage, 
though 1 do not claim for it an equal magnitude of 
mischief, is the excessive splendour of that grand 
first-prize in the lottery scheme of our politics, the 
Presidency, an object and temptation of ambition to 
our great men, as the infinity of minor offices are to 
our hundreds of thousands of lesser ones. The 
salary here goes for nothing, but it is the magnifi- 
cence of the power and of the greatness that con- 
stitutes the evil. 

Some prejudices may be shocked a little by the 
phrase, but the truth is that our Presidency is nothing 
more nor less than a quadrennial elective monarchy 
minus the empty bauble of a crown. If he is not 
called " your majesty," he, on the other hand, cumu- 
lates in his office that still higher power, under con- 
stitutional monarchies, of non-removable prime-mintater; 
while he dispenses a far greater amount of official 
patronage than any minister or monarch has the 
opportunity of dispensing within the period of a long 


reign. In a semi-palatial " White House/* he holds 
a court, diflTering from some in Europe only in the 
comparative absence of gilded expense, and that royal 
etiquette from whose tedious trammels most kings 
often delight for a while to escape. This great office 
is too glittering a temptation, operating upon a 
large class of men already in the position of influ- 
ential chiefs and leaders. It tends too much to cor- 
rupt honourable and patriotic ambition into intrigue 
and demagogism. All disclaim, while all naturally 
and necessarily, and many passionately, caress, in 
secret, the fatal fascination. Leadership of a great 
State or section — assiduous effort towards the widest 
extension of connexion and influence — indirect court- 
ing of the favour of other sections, to be superadded 
to established party power at home — identification 
with new or exaggerated ideas supposed to contain 
the germs of future popularity* — negotiations con- 
ducted by confidential representative friends at the 
nominating conventions — what intelligent American 
will not at once recognise these familiar features in 
the political life and character of most of our great 
men, though each may perhaps admit their existence 
only in the prominent aspirants of the other side P 
This is a very great evil, and eventually a very great 

*, Mr. Buchanan's Ostend manifesto—Mr. Cass's summary 
and immediate annexation — Mr. Polk's Mexican war~Mr. Seward's 
anti-slavery — Mr. Clay's ''American System," consisting of high 
Protection for the North, "sugar-coated" with internal improve- 
ments for the West, and calculated to reinforce with an irresistible 
combination of strength an already popular Southern man, &c. &c. 


danger, though perhaps less palpable than the former 
one of Patronage acting on the masses of our politi- 
cians. A nation has no greater moral interest — and 
the moral interests of nations blend inseparably with 
the material — than in the purity and elevation of tone 
of its great men, themselves the natural and actual 
leaders and exemplars to its millions. 

Another bad feature of this great, too great office, 
a feature which at moments of crisis may become a 
serious danger, is its four-years* inflexibility — may 
become ? has been 1 Who can doubt but that the 
revolution, which we call Secession, would have been 
prevented by timely compromise during the critical 
winter of 1860-1, had it not been for this very four- 
years'-long inflexibility of the ministry just elected 
to power, that is to say, the incoming President? 
Who can deny a certain considerable reaction of minds 
at the North, proved by several important local elec- 
tions in New England itself, when the consequences 
of the great popular mistake, just committed by the 
North, began to be realized — when the long-cried 
wolf of the Southern revolution was now heard howl- 
ing in earnest at the door of the Union ? An ordinaiy 
and removable ministry in power would have felt, 
would have been made to feel, the pressure of that 
public opinion. The fact that that pressure could 
make itself effective would have developed it in modes, 
and to a degree not to be expected where it was all 
useless. But with us the President-prime-minister was 
a ''fixed fact" for four years. The sole question was. 


What would he do — he and his chief party councillors 
— or rather he without and above them all P He and 
they were chained immovably to a " platform " and a 
party, while the party organization was committed to 
sustaining whatever should prove to be his decision and 
his action. The Union broke because, at a moment of 
supreme crisis, the system had no power to bend. 

Under our four-years' system, a President may hold 
and wield the Government for all that period even 
without a party at all, excepting such as he can create 
out of his patronage. Our Government is, then, in 
the situation of a watch with its mainspring out of 
order. Such was that of Tyler, nominated as an 
** available " adjunct to an ** available " Presidential 
candidate, by a party which was then not less justly 
punished, than immensely disgusted, when the death 
of the latter,, within a month after his inauguration, 
established in the Presidency a Government antago- 
nistic to all its leading ideas, and soon the object of 
its bitterest denunciations ; through all of which, how- 
ever, he remained a " fixed fact '* in power (having 
indeed given rise to that now cant Americanism), and 
did his best, though in vain, through his four years, 
to create a hybrid party for his own re-nomination. 

Four years is a long term for a great minority to 
sit down in contented resignation under this '^ fixed 
fact" of an inflexible Government, of a set of men 
and of principles both obnoxious to them. It is still 
worse when, as in the recent case, that elected power 
has against it the moral force of a really adverse 


popular majority ; and it ia a positive fact that "by 
adding the unanimous Southern vote to the divisions 
of the anti-Lincohi party at the North, there was a 
popular majority, counted nationally, of about a 
million against him. If the country had had before 
it the prospect of being able to reverse a mistaken 
vote in another year, there would have been no 
Secession. The Confederate amended Constitution 
is wrong, worse than the old one, on this point. It 
has increased the Presidential term to six years. It 
would have been far better to reduce it to one ; 
though still it is certain that a sexennial Presidency 
without Patronage will work much better than a 
quadrennial with it.* 


And why should the Presidential Election not be 
annual? I beg the reader to accept this suggestion 

* Another modificatioD made in the Confederate Constitution, 
though of minor importance, yet good and practical, may be men- 
tioned in passing, — ^that of requiring cabinet ministers to attend on 
the floors of Congress to answer interrogations and explain and 
^ justify their acts. This is well worthy of adoption by the North 
also. But the " right of secession " recognised by implication in that 
instrument creates too sandy a foimdation for the great political 
structiure designed to be erected by it. The present cohesion of 
homogeneity and of comparative weakness, oombined with the con- 
servative influence of moderate governmental action at the Federal 
ceutre under a ''State-Bights" theory of confederation, with small 
executive patronage, would no doubt hold it together for a certain 
time ; but the day must come, to the grandsons of the present gene- 
ration, when the rain will fall and the winds will beat upon the 
house, and the want of a firmer foundation will then make itself 
fatally felt. 


without any prejudices founded on our past practice, 
and on the authority of the framers of the Consti- 
tution, who, educated under an hereditary monarchy, 
and pressed by a considerable party in favour of 
an executive for life, made, certainly, a great step in 
republican progress, when they adopted an elective 
Presidency of four years; for the incumbency of 
which there existed at that day so grand an order of 
men, beginning with the natural first President 
Washington. I have no idea that, could they have 
foreseen the fierce party strifes and bitter animosities 
which that quadrennial Presidency was to give birth 
to, such would have been their solution of the difficult 
problem how to constitute a well-balanced Federal 
executive. The Roman system worked well for 
centuries under annual presidents, called consuls; 
there being, indeed, two of them at a time, so as 
to permit the absence of one in command of the 
frontier armies. The Swiss confederacy is represented 
to foreign nations by a President with an annual 
term, that office being successively occupied by the 
members of a council (seven, I believe, in number), 
who represent the diflTerent sections of the confe- 
deracy ; a wonderfully wise arrangement. I need not 
enumerate other republics whose executive chief ma- 
gistrates have been annual. For many centuries the 
successful little republic of San Marino has been 
governed by chief magistrates succeeding each 
other every six months. Most of the governors of 
our States are biennial ; some annual. What is, after 


all, the need, what the benefit, of a long-termed 
executive ? 

What do we want of Presidential ** policies^'* with 
** time for their development*' ? We want the country 
to be governed (that is to say, in regard to its federal 
concerns), not by any man, but by the general mind, 
working it^ "policy" and its will, through the ap- 
pointed macliinery of legislation, with constant, popu- 
lar intervention. We have no men so pre-eminently 
superior but that, thank God, Sparta has many 
hundreds of sons as good as he. We want a Pre- 
sident simply as the executive of the laws at home, 
and as the embodiment of the nationality abroad. 
The real dignity of the office resides in the function 
and the representation. As a third check upon in- 
considerate legislation — that is to say, a third elective 
representation of the collective national mind for that 
purpose — the office has also another utility; nor should 
it be divested of its present suspensive veto power. 
But for all the legitimate purposes of an executive, 
an annual one is all that is either needed or useful. 
The office would never die, the function never inter- 
mit, however individuals might succeed each other in 
its administration. The helmsman on shipboard is 
changed every two hours, but the wheel never sus- 
pends its action. The governing power would be, 
what I repeat it ought to be, the patriotic mind of 
the country, enlightened by universal public discussion 
in all its modes, and acting through the national 
representation, with its threefold mutual checks upon 



precipitancy or error. No sudden and violent changes 
of party and of policy could then occur to disturb 
the much steadier march of public affairs, and dislo- 
cate the system of the State. No motive springing 
from angry and impatient discontent could then 
dispose the thoughts of defeated minorities towards 
revolution, when an obnoxious election would have 
given power, and power reduced by the suppression 
of Patronage, for but a single year. No temptation 
to demagogical intrigue and management for the 
attainment of a prize shorn of its useless and evil 
splendours of attraction, would exert its perverting 
influence upon the great political leaders, to all of 
whom in fair turn it would fall, sooner or later, in the 
natural and tranquil course of things. Its incumbent 
would no longer be the special President of a party, 
an object of sour and resentful ill-will to a great 
minority — often, during the latter half of his term, 
a great majority. While, as a political dignity and 
power for all the purposes of foreign relations and 
intercourse, a moral force dependent wholly on his 
representative character, the annual President would 
embody the fulness of the national greatness and 
majesty, as did the Consul, and as does the Swiss 
President, unadulterated by any mixture of weakness 
grovnng out of his known loss of the popular sym- 
pathy and support. 

To the objection that such a frequency of Presi- 
dential elections would keep us in perpetual hot 
water, without even the slight intervals of repose 


now allowed, I answer, that, on the contrary, it 
would be the efiPectual remedy of that evil. It is 
now that we are in that perpetual hot water. It is 
the very magnitude, importance, and length of term 
of the office, the splendid greatness of the prize, in 
connexion with the vastness of the scheme of the 
great national lottery always drawing or preparing to 
draw, which makes and keeps the water hot. Remove 
by reform these causes of the evil, and the evil itself 
would disappear. Our Presidential elections are now 
a quick succession of hurricanes sweeping over the 
waves of the public mind, which is left by them, even 
through the intervals, heaving and tossing in per- 
petual unrest. I propose to convert that stormy 
agitation into the gentle ripples of steady and salu- 
brious breezes. 

Alasl have not those hurricanes alrec^dy wrecked 
the good ship of the State? With the blessing of 
God, and good sense and good will among men, she 
may yet right again, to bear henceforth her beloved 
old flag for a long career of glorious prosperity over 
smoother seas. 

Let not this suggestion be met with the charge of 
visionary innovation. The general experience of his- 
tory is in favour of annual terras for elective executives. 
It is our quadrennial one which was an innovation, 
and which has now lasted its tens, while the others 
lasted their hundreds of years ; and it is on a Presi- 
dential election, and struggle of Presidential parties, 
that we have now so soon broken down. It is the 


long term ^hich awakens the great ambitions, and 
stirs up the great struggles and passions of parties. 
And the greater the scale of the national dimensions, 
the greater the evil and the peril. This argument, 
though novel at this day among us, is sound and 
true, and I beg that it may be candidly received and 


We come now to the third flaw in our system, and 
it is a very serious one — the indistinctness of the line 
of demarcation of the limits of power between the 
Federal and the State Governments. 

Indeed, there is no such line, and it has become 
now indispensable that one should be drawn. This 
necessity is proved by the very fact that two ever- 
conflicting schools of doctrine, and consequent parties, 
have existed in the Union from its origin. They ex- 
isted in the public mind of that day; in the convention 
of the framers ; in the text of the Constitution, which 
is but the expression of their difficult and long doubt- 
ful compromise; and they have existed ever since. 
The Constitution was the ark of the covenant, but, 
unfortunately, no man could eter exactly say what 
the Constitution was. With all its specifications and 
limitations, even after the first amendments, there 
remained the '' general welfare'' clauf^e, and the clause 
authorizing '* all laws necessary and proper for carry- 
inq into execution " the conceded powers — elastic 


gcDeralities of phrase which served to bridge the 
chasm of opinion between the " Consolidation '* and 
the " State Rights " parties in the Convention and 
among the statesmen of the time. Interpretation^ by 
strict or by latitudinarian construction, had to come 
into play, with the aid of the Federalist, the Madison 
Papers, the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 
Madison and Jefferson, the debates of State ratifying 
conventions, and other facts and documents of the 
contemporaneous history, together with subsequent 
judicial decisions, and consolidated usage. And that 
interpretation^ twofold from the outset, which we may 
call Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian, or indeed Northern 
and Southern, made of it, not one distinctly and 
universally recognised Constitution, but two^ widely 
different, and indeed conflicting. We have thus had 
the maximum Constitution of federalism, and the mini' 
mum one of ultra State rights, not to speak of the 
variable medium one of a third large class. The 
influence of this cause of disturbance and discord has 
run through the whole course of our politics, colouring 
the characters of parties, and determining or affecting 
their various views of most of the practical measures 
which have entered into the national policy of the 

Whichever of these two theories of the Constitu- 
tion, twin from birth, be now, with the light of 
seventy years' experience, selected as best in itself 
and best adapted to our circumstances and character 
— whether that of consolidated nationality, with a 


strong governmental working from the centre, or that 
of extreme limitation of the federal power and action ; 
— either would be better, if distinctly and universally 
i*ecognised, than the existing uncertainty and conflict 
between the two. All men would then at least under- 
stand, and understand alike, their duties and their 
rights, and the just powenof the Government; and 
parties and sections would no longer be led off on 
widely divergent paths of opinion into positions of 
antagonism tending to become irreconcilable, each 
under the belief that it was in the true line of the 
Constitution, and that the other was false, usurpatory, 
and in violation of its true meaning and effect. 

I do not pretend to pronounce for other minds 
which of the two systems would be best in itself. 
That is a fair subject for candid discussion ; a discus- 
sion not to be evaded, if we would now really reunite 
the Union. The South has gone off on the minimum 
theory, and is fighting in revolutionary civil war to 
make it good, in its extremest consequences, against 
the Northern interpretation of the Constitution. In 
the North, under the natural influences of the situa- 
tion, even the democratic party, openly on the part of 
many, in tacit submission on the part of others, seems 
now to have united for a time with the Whig party, 
on that maximum theory which was, indeed, always 
frankly avowed and practised by the latter. The 
general Northern idea seems to be, that a stronger 
central government is now needed than we have had 
heretofore. It is a common phrase, that we have had 


no government, and must henceforth have one. This 
is a natural tendency of roinds at this moment, but I 
hope to succeed in satisfying some few at least, that 
the very reverse is the true moral of all this great and 
sad history. If I had not long ago been convinced 
that the only possible hopejof long keeping together 
our already enormous an^ still growmg confederation 
lay in reducing and moderating as much as possible 
the central power and action, that is to say, in cur- 
tailing as much as possible the scope of its influence 
upon the internal concerns of the States, whether 
exerted directly or indirectly, secession and the civil 
war would have converted me to that vital truth of 
our political salvation. To that doctrine, indeed, 
sooner or later, we must all come, whether for appli- 
cation to the old Union reunited, or only to that still 
vast residuary confederacy which would be left even 
after the loss of the South, embracing the East, the 
Atlantic Centre, the Lake Region, the great valleys of 
the Ohio, Upper Mississippi and Missouri, and, finally, 
the Pacific section, whose growth in population will 
soon fulfil all the conditions on which rests the argu- 
ment now applied to the old Union as a supposed 

To that argument, I now ask the patriotic consi- 
deration particularly of the old Federalist school of 
our politicians. Let none, at such a time, be influenced 
by nan'ow and selfish considerations of consistency or, 
habit, nor by the resentful passions of civil strife, from 
opening their minds to a candid reception of ideas 



perhaps heretofore honestly opposed by them. The 
issue at stake is the present restoration of the Union 
and of peace, and the future peaceful permanence of 
whatever at the close of this war may prove to be the 
Union. Our circumstances are now vastly changed 
from all that they were when the Consolidation theory 
may have been a necessary or a good one. A flood of 
new light, too, is now shed upon the whole subject, 
by the dread experience we are now passing through. 
I need not add, that true wisdom is to be found in 
candidly changing with altered circumstances and 
new evidences. 

For convenience, I consign to a note some statistical 
figures, which cannot be too thoughtfully and anxiously 

* The following table was prepared previously to the Census of 
1860. I have not at hand the official figures of that ^Census, in 
regard to which it is enough to say that they carry out the laws of 
population established by the series of the preceding censuses. The 
aggregate population was about 31,450,000; the slaves about 

Natural in- 

1 g 





crease, exclu- 
sive of 


1 ?"^ 

! immigration. 












60,000 1,325,098 337 \ 



1,933,889 364 

70,000 1,863,889 | 351 | 



2,398,317 j 353 

114,000 2,284,314 

315 I 



3,227,889 \ .334 

135,986 ; 3,091,903 




4,203,433 ! 326 

579,370 3,624,063 j 

281 1 



23,191,876 6,122,423 ; 358 



260 ! 





All history proves the difficulty of long holding 
together under one government any enormous masses 
of population, spread over vast and varied expanses of 
territory. History is, indeed, the necrology of " dead 

The principal object aimed at was to establish the natural rate of 
grototh hjf excess of births over deaths independently of the increase by 
immigration, with a view to calculation for the ^ture. Discarding 
the first three figures in the last column, because no accurate records 
of the earlier immigration were kept, the Censuses of 1830, 1840, 
and 1850 yield us the figures 320, 281, and 260 as that natural rate of 
growth, I therefore assume 250 per 1,000 as a fair and safe basis 
of calculation for the total decennial increase of the population for 
the next 100 years. The moderation of this must be admitted when 
it is considered that the following elements of increase are included 
in it, over and above the natural increase — namely, Ist. Immigra- 
tion and the multiplying progeny of immigrants ; 2d. Population of 
countries which may hereafter enter by accession or annexation 
into the Union ; and 3d. Improved sanitary science, tending to 
increase the proportion of children surviving to puberty, and to 
prolong life and, consequently, the number of births. It is evident 
that the 250 per 1,000 for the total increase (adopted for moderation 
and convenient roundness of figures) must be considerably below 
the mark. 

The following table, then, carries forward the estimate at that rate 
from the starting point which was assumed in advance as the popu- 
lation of 1860. It was, in fact, about half a million more, but in 
view of the effects of the present war, it may fairly be lefb, for the 
present purposes of calculation, at thirty-one millions. 

1860 . . 

. . 31,000,000 

1920. . 

. . . 118,255,613 

1870 . . 

. . 38,750,000 

1930 . 

. . . 147,819,516 

1880 . . 

. . 48,437,500 

1940. . 

. . 184,785,395 

1890 . . 

. . 60,546,875 

1950 . . 

. . . 230,981,991 

1900 . . 

. . 75,683,593 

1960 . 

. . . 288,726,488 

1910 . . 

. . 94,604,491 

Mr. Lincoli 

3, in his annual Messfl 

tcre, calls ati 

Bntion to this stupe 

dous prospect of population, assuming 250 millions within a cen- 


empires/* It was on this point, that Sir E. Bulwer 
Ijytton rested his recent argument for the impossi- 
bility of any long cohesion of our Union, believing 
that the day of necessary disintegration had already 
come. Such masses may, indeed, be held together 
for a certain time, through an intensely centralised 
power, despotically administered, and acting on the 
more remote provinces with the local ascendancy of 
vigilant military energy directed from the imperial 
centre. Such was the Roman system. Yet even 
these soon crumble from their own magnitude and 
weight, and the dislocating influence of so much force 
radiating from a centre to a distant circumference. 

tury. President Pierce had done substantiallj the same thing in his 
Message of 1853. If the political moral drawn by President Pierce 
from this census law of our population had been bettor heeded by 
All*. Lincoln's party, we should have had no secession. If Mr. Lincoln 
will but ponder over the philosophy of his own statistics, he must, 
I think, concur in the leading idea which it is the object of this 
pamphlet to elucidate— namely, the absolute necessity of now modify- 
ing our confederate system, by moderating our great national par- 
ties, purifying our politics, and reducing the action of the central 
force, in order to adapt it to its enlarged scale of application, and 
to have any chauce of long maintaining the cohesion of such enor- 
mous masses of population. 

If any reader should doubt the possibility of this incontrovertible 
arithmetic, let him remember— 1st. That the population of China, 
within territory much less than our existing space, is estimated by 
Sir John Bowring, the intelligent British Commissioner to that 
country, at about 450 millions ; and 2d. That no earthly power can 
prevent the necessary overspilling of this vast growth of our ex- 
pansive race over all Mexico and Central America. This growth of 
population is quite independent of the question whether we shall 
exist as one, two, or several confederacies. On the true principles of 
large confederation there is no reason why we should not exist as one^ 
in a system which would then simply represent Peace, Free Trade, 



The very provincial armies needed for the maintenance 

ley come, m spite of aiscipj 
to share in the surrounding disaffection — and all is 
over. If of different origin, their commanders, like 
Julius Caesar, make great military revolts; or, like 
the subsequent Praetorian armies, they elevate their 
generals to independent power, whether for the 
separation of distant provinces, or, with struggles of 
civil war, for the possession of the imperial capital. 
The Roman system of nationality on a large scale is 
clearly inapplicable now, and for America. How 
the Saracen empire, how the Macedonian, how the 

no great tianding armiety and no expensive royaltiesy spread over a vast 

Is not such a prospect worth a plank in a Party "Platform" ? 

The following tahle exhibits the past growth of our slave popula- 
tion ; which since the year 1810 has been all founded on the natural 
growthy with some diminution for escapes and voluntary emancipa- 
tion. It shows that the ratio of natural growth of the slaves is 
about equal to that of the whites. The falling off in the decade of 
years 1830-40, is attributable to the ravages of the cholera within 
that period, which were particularly severe among the blacks. 




per 1,000. 
































Persian, how the Assyrian, how — to return to a more 
modem age — that of Charlemagne, the Germanic, and 
the Spanish, thus crumbled in disintegration, I need 
not pause to describe. 

One great instance certainly exists of long-continued 
cohesion of vast masses of population, though not, 
indeed, spread over territories nearly so vast or so 
varied as ours — the Chinese. But this, too, is an 
intense and sanguinary military despotism, fortified 
with the theocratic influence, and exercised by a race 
of superior energy, the Tartars, over an unarmed and 
nerveless population of feeble rice-eaters, who, mul- 
tiplying like rabbits, seem to have the souls of rabbits. 
Yet even China is known to be in a chronic state of 
virtual division, through revolutionary struggles of 
rebel hosts, always exercising a savage and bloodthirsty 
domination in some large province or other of the 
empire. Our population does not live on rice ; every 
man has a rifle, and arm and neiTe to use it ; and 
submissiveness to force is not one of the elements of 
our proud, independent, and energetic national charac- 
ter ; in a word, we are not Chinese. 

Again, in Russia we see about sixty millions held 
together ; but Russia, as a great empire, is still in the 
youth of her age of conquest by superior arms and 
discipline over inferior barbaric tribes, which go largely 
to s\¥ell that, mass of population ; while military de- 
spotism, combined with the theocratic power in great 
vigour, is the indispensable condition of the cohesion 
even of the ftussian empire. That system also is clearly 


inapplicable to us and to America — ^to say nothing of 
the fact that our millions are soon to count not by 
tens but by hundreds. Ominous crackings, too, are 
beginning to be heard out of the heart of the huge 
iceberg of the Russian imperial system. Demands for 
local self-government already dare to arise mutteringly 
from the prostrate, all but adoring, masses of the pro- 
vincial population. How long it will hold together 
after habits of political life and action shall have 
formed themselves in the great provinces or sections, 
and after the people shall have risen to some general 
uniformity of civilization, remains yet to be seen. 
Clearly the case of Russia affords no grounds to our 
Consolidation school for any argument for the possi- 
bility of national cohesion among us to be long 
maintained by central force. 


And of all forms of government, when sought to 
be applied on a very large scale, confederation is that 
in which cohesion is the most difficult to be main- 
tained by the central, federal, or national force — call 
it what you will ; and we are a confederacy, and never 
can be anything else. Confederation implies separa- 
tion ever ready at a touch. However the right of 
secession as a corollary to accession may be denied in 
the forum and fought in the field, yet the fact is 
beyond controversy that confederation involves revolu- 
tion (in the event of provocation) practically ready in 


advance, and organized with governmental machinery, 
ever prepared, on the first blow of offence or of 
injury, to spring into full armed life, with such 
stature, power, and political respectability, as to make 
suppression, war. 

In empires, too, the central authority, being in a 
dynasty, has a certain hold on all the parts through 
the traditionary sentiment of loyalty, supported by 
the social power of a great and pervading aristocracy, 
usually interposed between the monarch and the mass. 
In such a confederacy as ours, the central power is 
simply that of majority in intangible abstraction ; and 
when it runs into the fonn of a sectional one, coinci- 
dent with diversity of interest and of character, then 
its dominion comes to be regarded simply as an alien 
yoke, against which the hearts of the overborne 
minority section rebel in moral war, long before their 
hands snatch the ready arms of revolution — an aUen 
yoke all the more hated by reason of that jealousy 
always prone to arise between neighbouring com- 

So long as the states of a confederacy are small 
and weak, and especially when surrounded by great 
neighbours, or when their independence has been 
born out of a severe revolutionary struggle, they will 
naturally huddle round the central power, by the 
instinct of self-preservation, with an attachment that 
may be called, as it is with us, national loyalty. 
Such, it is scarcely worth while to remark, is, by 
geographical necessity, the permanent condition of 


the Swiss confederacy. During that age or stage of 
their existence it is natural that the idea of centralized 
and consolidated power should be as it has been among 
us, a favourite one with a large class of honest and 
patriotic minds.. When, with the growing magnitude 
of its population and territory, the strong govern- 
mental action of the centre begins to give symptoms 
of shaking and dislocating the vast parts, through the 
great conflicts and consequent passions of parties, 
organized in huge masses and contending for immense 
interests, combined with the discontents and reciprocal 
jealousies of large sections, it is natural too that that 
same class of minds should incline to the idea that the 
Government is " not strong enough ;" that it needs to 
be strengthened, at least by the most vigorous use 
and the largest possible interpretation of its powers. 
AlasJ perhaps the true evil was that it was already too 
strong, or was worked too violently. 

The father surrounded by his infant family can with 
safety and advantage exercise a strong domination, 
for the good of the whole and the maintenance of 
the family cohesion — but let him beware of continuing 
the same, or anything like the same system of domestic 
government after he has come to be surrounded with 
young grown men, spirited, strong, and self-sufficing. 
If he desires to " preserve the union," there will be 
no inconsistency, but only common sense, in an entire 
change of system, now proper ^nd necessary, even 
though perhaps not so before. They can now and 
henceforth be held together only in a purely voluntary 


cohesion ; that is to say, by making each feel that the 
domestic authority can never press hardly nor offen- 
sively upon him, and that he enjoys all the benefit of 
innumerable happy advantages by the side of the 
common hearth, with no possibility of improving his 
condition, whether morally or materially, by quitting 
it, so that no motive can ever prompt the wish or 
thought of doing so. 


How wisely has England of late applied to her 
now well-grown colonies of Canada and Australia the 
political idea shadowed out in this domestic illustration I 
Before that reform which is an_ imperishable monu- 
ment to its author, — ^the Earl of Durham,* — Canada, 
though not yet numbering two millions, was profoundly 
revolutionary. England, which had before governed, 
had the sagacity to emancipate her; giving her a 
system of complete self-government, through a local 
parliament and a ministiy dependent only on the 
parliamentary majority; with a nominal govemor 
whose appointment by the Crown stands as the m&e 
formal expression of the British nationality and co- 
hesion. Knowing the mother-countiy thenoefiurth 
only by its mifitaiy and naval protection, by particap^ 

* Befo(«tlleSariofDllrilaIl^Fozl»d8udmBulittlMDt»ml791, 
with referenoe to Ouiada: ""IdonoilieBitatetoaaj, thatif alool 
Hgahtttre be KbeimDy fagipedl, that qmnnwUn ca would modi 
mo to oTwIook defects in the other wgnhtionw, b ec e nae I am 
Tinoed that tJk omlf meiMpd 9fre{mimimg duimmi eolmda mM 


tion in the dignity and pride of the common historic 
flag, and by the sympathies and benefits of free com- 
mercial intercourse, rebel Canada, in spite of the 
neighbouring American example and sympathy, and 
of the obvious facility of American annexation, has 
become within twenty years one of the most loyal 
members of what is called the British Empire. Instead 
of strengthening, England all but annulled, her govern- 
mental power and hold upon Canada, and interference 
in Canadian affairs. She made the relation of her 
great colony to herself a virtually federal and voluntary 
one— even to the extent of de facto recognising the 
" right of secession ; *' not indeed in legal form, but 
by signifying aloud, through all the organs of public 
opinion, that if ever Canada shall come to desire 
separation from the British Crown she will never be 
^^ coerced'^ into submission. England has thus in 
truth drawn far closer than ever before the bond of 
lational cohesion. 

The only partial element of disloy^ynow left in 
Canada is indeed that Irish element wiS^ immigra- 
tion carries across the Atlantic, to Canada as to us, 
a deep-seated hatred of England, generated by the 
very opposite system unwisely applied by England to 
Ireland at home. Yet even among the Irish in Canada 
we have recently seen the phenomenon of some of 
the leading Irish " rebels " — rebels of late in Ireland 
— converted into the most loyal and zealous supporters 
of the British cohesion and nationality in Canada; 
even to the length of raising volunteer regiments to 



resist an apprehended annexing invasion from us, of 
which invasion American-Irish troops would have led 
the van. 

How pregnant with instruction, in regard to the 
true policy and true principles of Confederate union, 
is all this to us, at this eventful moment of our own 
political life ! 


Our successive censuses have long foreshadowed 
the approach of the period when the problem of the 
durability of the Union was to be submitted to its 
real test. Could it hold together at 300 millions? 
Could it at 250 ? At 200? At 100? At 50?— and 
the highest of these figures is possibly to be reached 
within the lifetime of some thousands of children 
already bom, while those children will not be out of 
their teens before the attainment of the fifty millions. 
Alas ! at little more than thirty millions we are already 
fighting, on the most gigantic scale of civil war ever 
yet witnessed, to hold back in it a great minority 
section, which had become so alienated in heart from 
the Union as to defy any sacrifices and any perils 
rather than return into it ! 

This danger of dislocation, so fatally incident to all 
large confederations, can never, in our case, come from 
individual States. They., are too small for separate 
nationality ; too weak to stand alone ; independence 
being costly and hazardous as Well as noble. It is 


when a great section becomes disaffected, a section 
large, populous, and wealthy enough to make a nation, 
that the danger begins. This is the case of the child 
grown into manhood. 

There must always be a certain tendency, with the 
mere fact of great and growing size, towards the 
thought of separation. Independent self-government 
is a passion in the Anglo-Celtico-Saxon breast. It 
was that proud instinct, much more than a' little un- 
represented taxation, that prompted our own revolu- 
tion. Local attachment, sectional pride and jealousy, 
impatience of old things and aspiration towards new, 
dislike of external interfering control — these dis- 
integrating elements must always, to a certain degree, 
exist. The true policy of constitution, for a large 
confederacy, is to afford these elements the least pos- 
sible material to feed upon ; and no means of acting 
on the general public sentiment and opinion of the 
masses of the population, so as to disaffect them, and 
prepare them to follow the lead of those who should 
ever urge them in the direction of separation. This 
is to be secured only by keeping the general public 
mind of the section, of all the sections, thoroughly 
imbued with the knowledge that they could not 
possibly better their position, strengthen their social 
security, develop their interests, or ennoble their 
national life, by any change, least of all by separation. 
No policy therefore should be pursued — and for that 
purpose no powers should be .allowed to the Federal 
centre capable of being applied by the majority to the 


prosecution of any policy— calculated or tending to 
irritate or alienate any of the great sections ; to inter- 
fere with its peculiar domestic concerns ; to endanger 
its security, or to agitate it with the belief or fear of 
coming danger ; to offend its popular sentiment by 
an}rthing insulting^ or regarded by it as insulting (for 
men will fight to the death on a little insult who will 
tolerate great injuries); nor to cause it to regard 
itself as aggrieved by inequality in the public burthens. 
The day is not distant when our Pacific section will 
attain the stature sufficient for nationality. Does any 
one imagine that it could be kept in the confederacy 
by "coercion," after its general public mind should 
have once become seriously disaffected and irritated, 
through a course of policy pursued or threatened by 
the other sections established by majority in possession 
of the Government at Washington ? Apply the same 
reasoning to the Mississippi Valley. Or to the great 
commercial and manufacturing section of the Atlantic 
seaboard. Whatever be the result of the present 
great national effort to coerce the South back into the 
Union, whether it succeed or fail, no similar attempt 
mil ever again he undertaken against any great section 
bent on separation. Small as is the South now in 
population, and hampered as its white population has 
been supposed to be by the presence of its four 
millions of black' slaves, the enormous sacrifices of 
both blood and prosperity the war has already cost, 
is costing, and the gigantic public debt it will 
have left behind, will prevent the Federal Govern- 


ment ever again entering upon a second war of 
'' coercion.'* I even doubt extremely whether this 
one would ever have been undertaken, even by those 
whose influence prevailed to establish the coercive 
policy in the long hesitating mind of Mr. Lincoln, had 
the proportions and character into which it was to 
swell bc^n really anticipated. But Secession, though 
resolved upon in the influential councils of a whole 
section, began, in form and in execution, from a single 
small State; seemed to hesitate in Georgia; paused 
in North Carolina ; and stopped for a time within the 
still comparatively weak limits of the Gulf States. 
The Government and incoming governing party got 
thus gradually but inextricably committed to the view 
that it was but a small and weak rebellion, to be soon 
and easily crushed out. Itself led on by the apparent 
prospect of quick and easy triumph, party triumph as 
well as governmental, it was able, very adroitly and 
very successfully, to lead along with it the whole 
North, in the sacred names of Patriotism and the 
Union, to follow the Flag to which none could refuse 
to rally, when displayed from the capitol in danger. 
Whatever be the immediate issue, one ulterior result 
must follow, namely, a determination that the Union 
shall never be allowed to get into such a scrape again ; 
and, with a view to that object, a general reaction in 
the public mind against what may be called the 
Federal-force theory of our Government. Many may 
not perhaps at the present moment realize it, but all 
minds will soon come to understand that population 


has now brought us to the beginning of a new epoch ; 
that the great sections have now grown to manhood ; 
that there must be no more irritating, no more insult- 
ing, no more defying any of them ; no more disaffect- 
iug any of them by unfairly distributed taxation ; no 
more undertaking to dominate any one of them by 
consolidation of the rest in sectional majority against 
it ; no more great wars of coercion — ^in a word, no 
more of precisely all that which (less through the fault 
of men than of that of a system defective in certain 
points, however good and great in others) has brought 
us to the present pass. 

And this is but another form of saying, that, now 
that we have grown to our present dimensions, and 
that our decennial growth is to be counted henceforth 
in tens of millions, our system must undergo such 
reform as shall perfect it on the true principles of 
confederation on a large scale. It is not enough to 
reform administration ; there must be amendment of 
those features which have been found to lead oi* con- 
tribute to mal-administration. There must be, first, 
correction of all indistinctness in the demarcation of 
the Federal powers ; and second, the utmost limitation 
of those powers compatible with their object, so as to 
secure the minimum of irritating interference with the 
internal concerns of any of the component sections. 

I will concede, if you please, that heretofore the 
Federalist theory may have been a good one for the 
infancy of our confederation — though I am far from 
so thinking. I ask only the admission that henceforth 


it is uo longer applicable to our present and future 
stupendous development of population and territory. 
Surrendering the unsatisfactory Fast, I plead only for 
the great Future. Without disputing what the Con- 
stitution may have been or may now be — whether the 
maximum theory of it, the minimum, or some vague 
and variable medium between the two, be its tnie in- 
terpretation — I speak only of what it must at any 
rate be now unequivocally made, for adaptation hence- 
forth to its vastly enlarged scale of application. 


A perfect republican confederation on a large scale 
involves the following ideas : — 

1. United nationality for foreign relations, high- 
seas jurisdiction, and the public defence, involving the 
power of concluding treaties, making peace and wai;, 
and maintaining a standing army and navy. 

2. Internal freedom of trade and communication, 
involving a uniform mutual guarantee of civil rights 
to all the States, non-harbouring of fugitives from 
each other's laws, a common postal system, uniformity 
in laws of bankruptcy, and immunity of ' internal 
traffic and travel from river and harbour tolls, beyond 
what may be necessary for the cost of improvements 

3. Uniformity in duties on imports and exports, 
and in regulation of foreign commerce, and a common 
lighthouse system. 


4. Unifonnity in the measures of value, weight and 
dimensions, and of patent and copyrights. 

5. Organization of the legislative machinery of the 
Federal Government with the threefold checks, of, 
Ist, equal representation of the States in one branch ; 
2d, pro rata popular representation in another, and 
3d, suspensive veto (unless overridden by two-thirds 
votes of the legislative chambers) in the executive 
representing the collective Federal nationality. 

6. Organization of the executive with all the powers 
necessary for efficient execution of the Federal laws, 
but no more ; with the minimum of official patronage 
compatible with responsibility for their execution; 
and, as far as possible, so that the election to that 
important and semi-regal office shall not create violent 
party agitations throughout the confederacy, absorb- 
ing and subordinating the locally more important 
politics of State affairs. 

7. A Federal judicial machinery for the execution of 
the Federal laws, and for uniformity and impartiality 
in the dispensation of justice between citizens of 
different States. 

8. Power of trustee administration of all common 
property of the Confederation, whether territorial or 
personal, on the trust principle assuring to all the 
joint owners represented by the Federal authority 
an equal respect of rights. 

9. Local Federal jurisdiction over the seat of resi- 
dence of the Federal Government, with a view to 
guarantee the security and tranquillity of the Govern- 


ment, and the equal personal rights of all citizens of 
the several States, coming there as visitors or resi- 
dents; but this power, like the preceding one of 
trustee administration of common property, not to be 
open to the abuse of being so exeicised as to affront 
or attack indirectly the institutions of the respective 
States or sections. 

10. Self-subsistence through a direct personal rela- 
tion between the Federal Government and the indi- 
vidual citizen ; through a sworn duty of all State 
functionaries to support the Federal Constitution as 
well as the constitutions of their respective States ; 
and through the power to collect its own revenue, 
such collection of its revenue being on principles of 
uniformity and equity in regard to all the States, 
without favouritism to any local interests at the 
expense of other States or sections. 

11. Obligation to exert the Federal force for the 
maintenance of domestic peace and order when called 
upon by the State authorities. 

12. Power of admitting additional members into 
the Confederation, but this power not to be used with 
partiality in favour of or against any portion of the 
confederacy, by proscribing the admission of new 
States on account of domestic institutions authorized 
by the laws of existing members, and as such entitled 
to the Federal respect. 

13. Power of refusing consent to the secession of 
existing members from the confederacy, whose geo- 
graphical relations to the rest may render their 


continued association necessary to the general security 
or well-being ; with power to coerce, in such case, 
by simple coast blockade and non-intercourse by 
land, and withholding of Federal benefits. 

14. Guarantee to the citizen of all the great 
personal rights usually embodied in Bills of Rights, 
which it is needless to enumerate, and prohibition to 
the Federal Government of any extension of its func- 
tions or power beyond their clearly defined limits, 
with special prohibition of the use of the conceded 
powers for the indirect object of an irritating inter- 
ference with the internal concerns of any of the States. 

15. And finally, supremacy of the Federal Constitu- 
tion and laws, within those distinctly defined limits, 
over anything that should be at variance therewith 
in the constitution or laws of any State ; but on the 
other hand, nullity of any Federal law transcending 
those limits, with some recognised tribunal of supreme 
arbitrament to decide thereon in cases of dispute 
between a State and the Federal Government.* 

* The Supreme Court Is presumed to subserve this purpose now. 
But it is humbly submitted some further check upon unconstitu- 
tional legislation is requii*ed. The mere mXL of the Federal Qovem- 
ment, interpreting its own powers, is clearly not sufficient, whether 
AS a restraint or as a guarantee against jealous uneasiness on the 
part of the States. The Supreme Court, in the practical working of 
this function, does not appear quite enough for this high power and 
duty of arbitrating between a State and the Federal Qovemment, 
when the former shall have impeached the constitutionality of a law 
passed by the latter. That court, a tribunal of lawyers, generally, 
indeed, but not always very great ones, does not in fact command 
sufficient political authority to determine such high controversy 
between co-ordinate sovereignties at issue ux)on the vital question 


Such a confederation as this (and it differs from 
our old one but in a very few amendments, suggested 
by our past and present experience), however full 
might be the energy of the central authority within 

of their reflpective powers. Its decisions have, in point of &ct, in 
the coarse of time varied, being influenced by the prevalence of the 
one or the other of the two schools of constitutional doctrine in 
majority on its bench. The (Tountrj, or a State, has more than once 
overruled its decisions, which, though conclusive as to individual 
legal rights, are not recognised as having supreme political force. 
South Carolina once resorted to the remedy of State " nullification ** 
of a Federal law impeached by her as unconstitutional ; and that 
controversy was never really settled, having been in fact compromised 
away by change of the law in question simultaneously with desist- 
ance from the proceeding of nullification. Other analogous cases 
might be cited, as that of Georgia, in regard to the Indian tribes 
witbiu her limits. The constitutionality of a National Bank, asserted 
by the Supreme Court, was overruled by the still higher effective 
authority of the public opinion and public will, after much and 
violent discussion. The Dred Scott decision has been of late wholly 
disregarded, in it? moral and political authority, by a great party, 
and, indeed, by the majority section of the Union — ^and a great public 
misfortune this has been. The only political effect of a decision of 
the Supreme Court on such occasions has been found to be that of 
stimulating the great party whose constitutional views may have 
been condemned by it to greater exertions to sustain them through 
elections and consequent legislation, and to strive to change even- 
tually the political complexion of the court as the aged lives of its 
members fell in. I do not speak of what ought to be, but of what 
has been and is. Now, the moral authority and dignity of that 
great court ought not to be subjected to this damaging association 
with politics. The greatest danger to union in a confederacy is 
conflict between the Federal Qovemment and a State, or section of 
contiguous States, upon these vital questions of constitutionality. 
We need some better safety-valve against that danger than the 
Supreme Court, though meant in part for that purpose, has, in fact, 
proved to be. The knowledge of the existence of such adequate 
safety-valve would impart a sense of security which would materially 
counteract the tendency to revolution in a dissatisfied section. 
Might not such additional safety-valve be found in a new provision 


definite limits, might well hope to be indefinite in 
duration and in capability of expansion. The vaster 
and more populous its extent, the more various the 
local interests of States and sections, all being best 
developed by perfect freedom of internal trade and 
intercourse, the greater the common benefit from all 

by which, when any State should formally impeach the constitntion- 
aUty of a Federal law, it should be the duty of the President to 
convene a high court of special commissioners, one from each State, 
to decide on such question of disputed constitutionality, no law 
being held to be constitutional which should be condemned by over 
one-third of that body ? Every State, for its own credit, would have 
itself represented by its first men, its most eminent judicial states- 
men, on such occasions, its ex-presidents, and men of similar category. 
Such occasions would be very rare. The existence of that resort 
would prevent nullifications and secessions, or resistances to laws 
regarded by States as unconstitutional, better than any apprehensions 
of coercive civil war. The conservative public opinion and moral 
force of the whole country would sustain the action of such a high 
court of constitutional commissioners, and dissatisfied opinions 
would be overborne by an atmospheric pressure of the general mind. 
Some such new sa/ety-valve, some such solemn and extraordinary 
tribunal of arbitrament between the Federal G(ovemment and 
dissatisfied States, would at least be very useful, though it is not 
advanced as absolutely necessary. How could any State rebel against 
a law impeached by it as unconstitutional, when it should have been 
sustained as constitutional by two-thirds of such a tribunal ? On the 
other hand, a new law thus impeached by a State, and condemned by 
over one-third of such a tribunal, had better not go into efieoi In 
Europe controversies between sovereignties, when not referred to 
force, are arbitrated by some mutually friendly sovereignty. As 
between the co-ordinate .sovereignties of our federative system, this 
resource is not open to us. But what is here suggested would be the 
intervention of the combined sovereignties of the Confederation, 
convened in a special form, and with extraordinary solemnity for 
that purpose. We cannot too carefully guard our federative sfystem 
on this its weakest point in reference to the contended harmony 
of its parts, on which the permanence of the Union is mainly 


these uniform institutions, and from all this conti* 
nental peace and tranquillity, the more manifest to all 
the economy of having but a single national govern- 
ment, and the stronger the inducement to each State 
to ding, with equal attachment and conviction, to a 
confederacy in which each would combine ail the 
freedom of self-government with all the dignity and 
security of a great power. Thus organized, we could 
confront without fear of disintegration the huge 
arithmetic of our swift-approaching hundreds of 
millions ; while, necessarily pacific from our confede- 
rate character, from our very diversity of interests, 
and from the importance of peace to their reciprocal 
development^ we should be no object of apprehension 
to foreign powers, except frt)m that slow and silent 
influence of our example, which would, indeed, even- 
tually educate the future generations of Europe to the 
imitation of such a model of continental peace and 
universal prosperity. 

This is the ideal of confederation on a large scale, 
and the only possible basis on which confederation on 
a very large scale can hope long to subsist. And this 
was substantially the idea of the framers of our 
system ; and only a few slight modifications of detail 
are proved by our experience to be needed, to com- 
plete and perfect their great work. 

But if the system be such, or be so administered, 
as to enable the Federal authority, which must be 
wielded by the majority, to bear unequally, and there- 
fore oppressively and offensively, upon a considerable 


minority, to attack its domestic institotions through 
the indirect interference of the Federal power thoe- 
with, to menace the permanent security oi its social 
system, and at the same time to irritate the general 
susceptibility of the public feeling in the minority 
section, by the motives and mode of such interference, 
alienation must be the inevitable result — aspiration to 
independence — ^in a word, revolutionary secession. 


And this brings us to the fourth of those dements 
of evil assigned on a former page as the causes which 
have brought us to the present situation, and which 
must be reformed if we would get out of it now and 
avert its recurrence hereafter, namely, the Northern 
tendency to overwork and misapply the central 
Federal power, in modes calculated to alienate and 
exasperate the South, and fatal to permanent confe- 
deration ; those modes having been chiefly through the 
Protective policy, and hostile interference with the 
great social question of Slavery at the South. 

The South is exclusively agricultural; the East 
almost exclusively manufacturing ; the Atlantic Mid- 
dle States largely manufacturing, while Pennsylvania 
is also a great coal and iron State. The operation of 
the Protective system is manifestly to tax heavily the 
agricultural South, in the form of prices, for the 
peculiar benefit of the manufacturing and mineral 
section. The Southern statesmen have been angrily 


protesting against this system for a period of now 
nearly forty years. Their estimate of the tribute thus 
levied upon the South, for the profit of the North, has 
been, at the least, fifty millions of dollars a yciar. Its 
injurious effect upon the South they have felt to be 
still further aggravated by the fact that the peculiar 
products of Southern agriculture, cotton, rice, tobacco 
and naval stores, have constituted the main basis of 
the national exchange with Europe, so that all dimi- 
nution of imports from Europe, by means of high 
tariffs, has proportionately damaged the European 
market for Southern products, international com- 
merce being necessarily nothing but barter, facilitated 
through bills of exchange. Tbey have protested, 
denounced, and struggled in vain. Protection has 
been one of the great party ideas. Even the agricul- 
tural West has largely supported it, partly under the 
influence of Clay and the Whig party, and partly 
because a high Federal revenue, derived from the tariff, 
tended in favour of the great Western interest of 
internal improvements. If the Federal revenue had 
really been raised in some fair mode, bearing uni- 
formly upon all, and if then a further tax had been 
imposed for the purpose of paying a system of boun- 
ties for the encouragement of the Northern manu- 
factures, coal and iron, the South would have paid 
about fifty millions a year towards that object* The 
indirect mode of levying this tribute is not a bit less 
in violation of the spirit, not to say the letter of the 
Constitution^ than would have been this direct and 



undisguised one. Probably it would have been less 
oppressive in point of fact. The only wonder is that 
the South has not risen in revolution against such a 
system long ago. They gave a great revolutionary 
start in 1831, but were half deterred, half coaxed 
into quiet by a compromise conceding, substan- 
tially, the principle claimed by them. The interlacing 
influence of the great national parties, then not sec- 
tional in their distribution, operated strongly, at that 
time, in favour of cohesion. But the North did not 
long adhere to the faith of the tariff compromise of 
1831. The Protection influence, possessing the full 
strength of the Whig party and a portion of that of 
the Democratic party also at the North, was too strong 
for it. The whole existing generation at the South 
has thus grown up in deep and bitter disaffection 
against the North on this ground ; and no wonder. 
It was not enough, as a single cause, yet to produce 
revolution, but it is a strong proof of the really pro- 
found attachment of the South to the Union and to 
the Constitution, that it did not produce it long 
before. It ploughed and prepared the ground, how- 
ever, deeply and long, for that bloody crop which the 
sword is now reaping. 

Meanwhile there was at work another influence 
tending even more strongly towards the same result, 
namely, the Anti-Slavery Agitation at the North. This 
was from the outset founded on misconception of the 
idea of confederationy which involves mutual respect 
for each other's equality and rights, and non-responsi- 


bilityfor each other's internal institutions, laws, or 
opinions. As far back as the time of the Missouri 
question, the North assumed the right of abhorring 
the social system of half the States in the confederacy, 
so far as to declare that that system should constitute 
a disqualification for the entrance of any new member 
into the Union. This was already in itself a gross 
violation of the spirit of the Constitution. If that 
position had been adhered to, the Union would pro- 
bably have separated then., but the question was 
compromised by consent of the opposition to the 
admission of Missouri, and by a law dividing, by a 
line of latitude, the rest of the territory then belonging 
to the Union, slavery being excluded from the one 
half and permitted in the other. A reaction followed 
at the North against this dangerous spirit of inter- 
meddling with the consciences and concerns of equal 
sister States, and for about ten years Anti-Slavery was 
at a low ebb. It then began to rally again in Puritan 
New England, and mainly under stimulation from 
Great Britain. From that time to this it has gone 
on progressive and aggressive. The avowed eventual 
object of its crusade was the abolition of slavery in 
the Southern States ; beginning by agitating for its 
abolition in all places under the Federal jurisdiction, 
especially in the district of Columbia, and then, on 
the acquisition of new territory, its prohibition in 
aU such new territory; thus reviving, with a new 
application, the old Missouri controversy. It soon 
became bitterly denunciatSj^ and insulting. Slavery 



was to it the " sum of all villany." The Constitution 
which recognised and protected it was a '^covenant 
with death, and agreement with hell/' 

All this, irritating as it was, not only in itself, but by 
the unresting agitation of its menace, not only in the 
press but in Congress, could not affect the Union, so long 
as it remained confined to an insignificant party dis- 
avowed by the immense mass of the population of the 
North. It was counteracted by the cohesive infiuence 
of the two great national parties, each cherishing 
relations with their respective wings throughout the 
South. But it became more serious as time went on, 
and as the Anti-Slavery infiuence proved to be strong 
enough, firsts to divide the Union between the orga- 
nizations of great Church communions. North and 
South ; secondly, to cause several Northern States vir- 
tually to nullify, by actual legislation, the compact of 
the Constitution for the rendition of fugitive slaves ; 
and thirdly, to increase at every election the number 
of abolitionists, and other shades of anti-slavery men 
in both Houses of Congress. 

Then loomed up, dark and menacing from the 
North, the doctrines of a "higher law,'* and of 
the " irrepressible confiict ; " proclaimed, not by 
insignificant fanatics, but by important, shrewd, 
and calculating politicians and party leaders; the 
thunders of Anti-Slavery denunciation, denimcia- 
tion involving both hate and threat, rolling mean- 
while louder and louder over the land, from the 
high central mount of the capitol. Anti-Slaveryism 


next takes the form of preliminary civil war, with all 
its passions, on the representative arena of Kansas. 
One of the two great national parties at last, its old 
supreme leaders having now disappeared, drops its 
Southern wing altogether; adopts the fatal idea of 
sectionality, and aims at Presidential victory by con- 
solidating the majority North on the Anti-Slavery 
idea. The recognised head of that party is the apostle 
of the " higher law," and of the " irrepressible con- 
flict.'" It is but a sample of his political preaching, 
re-echoed by powerful influences in the press, when I 
quote from an address to a meeting of his party, that 
*' slavery must be abolished, and you and I must do 
it." It goes into the great national struggle of a Presi- 
dential canvass, anti-slavery being its absorbing topic. 
It is all but successful. Only the electoral vote of 
Pennsylvania, by a bare majority, postpones the evil 
day of the Confederation, ** cut clean across as with 
a knife," -in moral disunion, by the triumph of the 
North on the anti-slavery idea, and the menace of the 
** irrepressible conflict," and abolition to be effected 
by " you and me." The practical form taken by that 
idea, is that of smothering slavery by accumulation of 
the census growth of the black race within its existing 
limits, until, preponderance of numbers shall l»^m>e 
^ oranpg TorB^<» , and thus coerce either emanci- 
pation or abandonment of the soil by the whites, 
under peril of St. Domingo ; St. Domingo stimulated 
by the hostile ascendancy of anti-slavery throughout 
the neighbouring North. This is the mode and such 


are means of accomplishment, not direct but deadly ; 
not immediate but sure. The Supreme Court steps 
in with the Dred Scott decision. " Down with the 
Supreme Court ! *' is the only reply. " Away with 
the constitutional right of Southern migration, with 
Southern property, habits, and social and industrial 
system, into even any portion of the future territories!'* 
Even John Brown is all but deified by a large pro- 
portion of the new anti-slavery party of the North. 
Stimulated by so close an approach to success at the 
first attempt, the mighty Republican party, thoroughly 
amalgamated now with Abolitionism, renews the con- 
test at the next Presidential election. Coincident 
circumstances of distraction on the democratic side, 
growing in part out of the excesses of our party 
system above explained, and in part out of the agency 
of a small disunion party at the South, which had 
gradually grown into being as the natural responsive 
reflex to Northern Protection and Northern Abolition 
Disunionism,* help along the work of fate. The cut 

* This Disunion party was never large at the South ; never even 
considerable enough io avow itself, as did not a few of the repre- 
sentative Abolitionists at the North. It increased rapidly, however, 
in the interval between 1856 and 1860, after the dose approach of 
Fremont to a sectional victory on the anti-slavery idea foreshadowed 
the success of the second attempt in the person of Mr. lincoln, 
whose evil fate reserved him for the thorny crown of the IVesidency 
under such circumstances. Thousands undoubtedly vowed sincerely 
in their hearts, as the Southern press loudly proclaimed, that they 
would secede on the election of an Abolitionist by the North. The 
very sweeping character of the Republican triumph throughout the 
North aggravated it as a sectional provocation. A few real '^Dis- 
unionists/7^ ^/' whose minds had become saturated with the idea 


is clean this time; clean, deep, and thorough. The 
two main practical points of the Chicago platform 
were precisely those, Protection and Abolition ; that is 
to say, eventual abolition on the smothering plan» and 
with the present bitter national insult of denying to 
the South the right of all access by migration to the 
common territorial property of the Union. Looking at 
it fairly, impartially, and coolly, who can wonder that 
revolution for separation immediately followed? and 
followed as promptly as, according to the Southern 
theory of the Constitution, it could be carried into 
e£Pect, that is to say, through the State organizations 
in the form of Secession ; Secession legally and fully 
justified, according to the Southern conviction, by 
Northern extreme violation of all the real compact of 
the Constitution. It was not the mere election of an 
obnoxious President, the mere success of an adverse 
party. It was the spread of abolition sentiments in 
the North— the menace of the ** irrepressible conflict" 
to be carried out on the smothering plan ; the clean 

that the sole safety of the South lay in independenoe, contributed 
also undoubtedly to foment the diyision of the Democratic party at 
the Charleston Convention, with the power always possessed by 
Tehement men in the councils of an excited and excitable people. 
The real evil was not in the few Disunionists, who were not indeed 
either numerous or influential enough to constitute a '^ conspiracy,** 
but in the general disaffection of the South, the slow growth of many 
years of irritation and alarm. A single man can start into flame a 
vast body already heated almost up to the point of spontaneous 
combustion. The causes of alienation had been for years silently 
acting like cumulative poisons in the human system. But the great 
body of the chief men of the South, including those whose political 
rank raised them at once to the leadership of the movement, neither 


cut of sectional division, with all its natural conse- 
quences of future alien and hostile domination now suc- 
ceeding to fraternal confederation ; the coming danger, 
the present profound national insult of the thing 1 

I deplore, more than truth permits me harshly 
to condemn, the conduct of the irritated, the exas- 
perated South, in not having at least waited for 

wished nor meant separation, even though they strove to prepare 
their section in some degree for the possible eventuality of the civil 
war which seemed a danger likely to grow out of the election of the 
Republican candidate. Fixed in their conviction of the constitu- 
tional right of their position in regard to the Southern right of pro- 
perty in the territories, they were indeed inflexible upon it ; but 
what they sought, even after they found themselves impelled by the 
angry popular pressure from their States to the perilous resort of 
secession, was the eventual recognition of their rights in the Union, 
not a permanent separation from it. I could refer to various proofs 
of this. I content myself with appealing to the now leading men 
of the Confederate States themselves, and to the knowledge of their 
sentiments possessed by not a few of their old democratic friends 
and associates at the North. I have myself heard some of them, 
even after the Rubicon was crossed, and there was for them no fur- 
ther looking back, grieve deeply over that lost Union in which a 
citizen of ^' little Delaware " stood in Europe the political equal of 
the proudest noble of any of ** the great powers." No class of men 
had a more intense admiration for, or attachment to, the Constitu- 
tion, provided it were imderstood and administered aright, that is to 
say, on the State-Rights theory of it, than all the men of what may 
be called the Calhoun school ; but that very passionate love of it, 
which involved love of the Union too, made them the more intolerant 
of its perversion, and perversion into an instrument for wrong to the 
South by the majority-power of the North. They are all traitors 
now, of course, as I suppose I am too for thus speaking of them ; but 
there is no finer body of men in the country or in the world, and woe 
betide the day which shall seal our final dissolution of friendship 
and fellow-countrymanship with those very men who are now 
brutally threatened with the halter by a party at the North who 
have been the real authors of all this devil's work of disunion. 


another Presidential election. In that election we 
should probably have utterly overthrown throughout 
the North this Republicanized Abolitionism. Philip 
sobered would have atoned for Philip mad with that 
*' bad alcohol" of party above mentioned. Meanwhile 
the South was still safe in the Senate, and in the sage 
serenity of the Supreme Court. It had also its large 
share of blame for the distractions whose consequences 
had overthrown the democratic party. The Union 
was well worth that further four years of patience, 
bitter as was the insult, deep the wrong, alarming the 
menace, flagrant the violation of the whole spirit of 
the constitutional compact. Had Calhoun been yet 
alive, he would have counselled thus to wait. But it 
is always easy thus to reason calmly for others in such 
situations of extreme irritation. A man under the 
smart of his insblt must act, and wiU act, for himself, 
and act at once. If he would always be persuaded 
by friends, and by the wise and hopeful spirit of 
Christian love, to wait foiur years to see if atonement 
would not yet be made, the reign of ''peace on 
earth" would indeed have come. The South is high* 
spirited and proud; confident in its strength, clear 
and fixed in its constitutional opinions. It had in a 
thousand forms declared its determination in the event 
of Abolitionized Sectionalism triumphing over it, even 
in the person of Fremont, a native of South Carolina, 
in 1856. It repeated it in the fullest forms of com* 
mittal in 1860. The glove of scornful defiance of its 
supposed impotence was flung in its face by the 


Republican party in 1856. Again in 1860, and this 
time the republican party became the North. It would 
have been sage and Christian to wait to see if it would 
be done yet a third time, before girding on the dread 
armour of civil war, and civil war for the dissolution 
of Washington's Union. But — I may be execrated 
and exiled for it in my own section, or imprisoned 
in Fort La Fayette, within sight of my own home. 
I will nevertheless speak out the honest truth — ^my 
sole wonder is that the entire South did not, within 
three days after Mr. Lincoln's election, flash out in 
one blaze of insurrection from Maryland to Texas. 
That it did not is a signal proof of two things : — 

1 . Of the instinctive American attachment to regular 
legal forms and organized modes of political action, 
causing them to wait for the action of their State 
Governments, which they expected to proceed in what 
they regarded as the legitimate constitutional way of 
Secession justifiably repealing Accession. 

2. Of a certain profound traditional and habitual 
love of the Union, which still tugged at their heart- 
strings ; a sentiment which long held in the Border 
States ; which animated a considerable Anti-Secession 
party in the very seceding States ; which even prompted 
the parting words of some of the retiring senators 
(Mr. Slideli for instance), addressed to the democrats of 
the North, implying that that very course of necessary 
self-assertion by the South was the true and the only 
way of eventually bringing us together in a renewed 
confederation adapted by reform for a real per- 


maiience— of reviving a phcBnix Union out of the very 
ashes of the old one. It is upon this sentiment at 
the bottom of the Southern hearty not yet, I trust, all 
extinct, that I build now some hope of a Reunion not 
yet quite impossible. 

But it is manifest that, if we would even dream of 
such reunion, the North must make up its mind to give 
up, once for all and for ever, these two fatal mistakes : — 

1. Unequal and unfair tariff taxation of the agri- 
cultural South. 

2. Intermeddling with the Southern slavery ques- 
tion, whether by direct, or by not less offensive and 
dangerous indirect' means, of attack upon it through 
the machinery of the ^federal Government. 


To do this with effect, adequate amendment of the 
Constitution is the only way. The amendment must 
be such as to give an ample guarantee for the future. 
And while amending the Constitution on those points 
and for those objects, we ought to make the work 
complete by adopting at the same time those modi- 
fications of detail which experience has proved 
necessary for the reform of that excess of party 
spirit, that over-action of our great presidential parties, 
and of that general demoralization of our politics, 
which none of us can deny to have played a very 
important part among the complicated causes which 
have brought us to our present position. 


Reform of our great parties, and of our politics 
generally, is to be effected through the combined 
action of three means : — 

I. Reduction of patronage to the minimum, by not 
suffering removal from offices except for just cause. 

IT. Reduction of the Presidency, while preserving 
all the executive vigour, responsibility, and national 
dignity of the office, to an annual term. 

in. More distinct definition of the Federal power 
with a view to moderate the conflict of opinions be- 
tween the two great schools or theories of interpre- 
tation ; this more distinct demarcation being in the 
direction of limitation of the Federal power, so as to 
preserve everything requisite or useful for the purposes 
of confederation on a large scale, while removing all 
means for, and all inducement to, irritating interference 
in the concerns of States or sections. The particular 
amendments with this view being also threefold, 
namely — 

1. Guarantee to all sections of uniform fairness of 
taxation, by prohibiting taxation, direct or indirect, 
for the object of protecting* any local or sectional 
interests at the expense of those of other sections; 
the Federal revenue being collected purely on the 

* If any State should want to stimulate by encouragement any 
particular manu&cture within its borders, it will remain free to do 
it either through loans or through boimties sufficient to aid the 
nascent industry in its competition with that of foreign countries. 
If its people will consent to such self-taxation, there would be no- 
body else to object. But there is neither rhyme nor reason in their 
asking other States to bear that taxation for them, in the form of 


revenue principle for the payment of the public debt, 
and of the expenses of the Government economically 

2. In all places under the common Federal juris- 
diction, recognition to citizens of the several States 
coming thereto of all rights of property lawfully 
existing under the laws of their respective States. 

3. Provision for internal improvements to be made 
by authorizing transit and harbour tolls by the States 
with approval of Congress, to cover the cost of theii* 
construction and maintenance, whether by single 
States or by two or more locally concerned. 

IV. And finally, in addition to the above, it would 
be useful, though not necessary, to adopt a provision 
for some high tribunal of the States, more solemn and 
extraordinary than the Supreme Court, for the decision 
of any question of the constitutionaUty of a Federal 
law that should be formally brought in issue between 
the Federal and a State Government. 

If the North were now to present to the South the 
Constitution amended substantially on these ideas, toould 
not the latter return into the Union thus reformed — 
call it the old or call it a new one, a>s you please ? 

I do not ask what might be the first impulse 
of men under passionate excitement. They might 

prices increased by protective duties ; the more so as those protec- 
tive duties operate upon the people of those other States with the^ 
twofold wrong — 1st. Of taxing them in the form of the enhanced 
price ; 2d. Of damaging their foreign market for the productions of 
their own industry. Protection may be very well under some cir- 
cumstances, but not in the form of plundering Peter to " protect " 
PauL At least Peter can hardly be expected long to submit to the 


say, as some leading Southern gentlemen at an earlier 
stage of this dread history are reported to have said, 
that if the North should now give them a blank sheet 
of paper to write their own terms, they would never, 
on any conditions, return into the Union. The ques- 
tion is the practical poUtical one. What would be done 
m>w, or some months hence, in view of all the past, all 
the present, and all the future ? Are not the induce- 
ments pressing on both sides sufficient to overcome 
all the- objections, undoubtedly existing on both, to 
reunion by thia means ? 

I am well aware of the full force of these difficulties. 
They may be thus summed up : — 

1. The only great Inaterial interests against it are 
the tariff interest of the North, undoubtedly a great 
power ; and, in minor degree, the internal improve- 
ments interest of the West. The other difficulties are 
of a moral nature. They are — 

2. The old Southern hatred of " the Yankee,*' with 
the superadded animosity against the North generated 
by the war. 

3. The Southern attachment to the constitutional 
idea of the sovereign ^^ right of secession,'' as a 
guarantee against abuse of majority domination; a 
'^ right " fixedly regarded by the North as incompatible 
with any solidity or reality of union. 

4. The general repugnance of the people to touch 
the sacred work of the Constitution with sacrilegious 
hand of amendment ; and especially the repugnance 
of the North to amend it at this time, until after full 
re-establishment of its authority. 


5. The particular repugnance of the republican 
political leaders to any adjustment by compromise, 
which should seem to involve failure in their great 
undertaking of crushing andJiumbUng the Southern 
rebellion, as a vital party necessity to tAem. 

6. The exasperation of the Abolitionists, and of the 
anti-slavery party generally, at the thought of any 
adjustment under which not only would slavery in the 
South be placed beyond the reach of their indirect 
attacks through the machinery of the Federal Govern- 
ment. but may even hereafter extend into new territory. 

Here is unquestionably a formidable, at first blush 
a desperate, array of obstacles. Before considering 
them in their order, and then ^finally the mode and 
means of carrying into effect the proposed Reform and 
Reunion — Reunion through Reform — let us first 
suppose the Union thus reconciled and reunited on 
some such basis as is above indicated; and then 
tiy to imagine what would be the working of our 
Confederate system thus regenerated. Probably its 
contrast with our past experience, present condition, 
and the dark and doubtful prospects yet lowering 
before us, may suggest some stimulus to the effort 
required for its realization. 


On the reduction, amounting to substantial abo- 
lition, of the evil of patronage (for the States would 
soon imitate the good example of the Federal Govern- 


ment in this respect), would necessarily follow a general 
reform of our politics — purification and elevation of 
their tone, and moderation of parties and party spirit. 
I do not say that our great nationalp^tieswould 
disappear ; but, no longer divided m^doctnne oetween 
the State Rights and Consolidation schools, no longer 
at issue on the great interests of Protection, and of 
slavery and anti-slavery; no longer battling for victory 
in great Presidential campaigns ; and, above all, when 
no longer fighting for its "spoils," they would be 
something very different, and much better than they 
have heretofore been. The morbid fever of party 
spirit would subside into the natural emulation of 
healthy public discussion. Presidential or Federal 
politics would no longer, in reversal of the proper 
order, absorb those of the States. The Federal Govern- 
ment would have no channels for its action of a nature 
to arouse the excitements of great pecuniary interests 
of sections or large classes at stake upon its policy. 
The machinery of party politics would go very much 
out of use. Political management and intrigue would 
be much less influential to secure representative nomi- 
nations for an inferior order of men. Party traders, 
cultivating politics for its profits not always pure, 
would have little inducement to stimulate them, and 
few means of success. Men would be much more 
independent of party discipline; and the right and 
reason of every subject discussed would be much less 
than now subordinated to the interests, passions, or 
pledges of parties. The Presidential elections, from 


the shortness of the tenure and absence of patronage, 
would lose all that character of importance and ex- 
citement which now keeps the country in a chronic 
state of intermittent convulsions. A new steadiness 
would be imparted to the general administration and 
policy of the Government, which would no longer 
depend on the alternate victories of great parties* 
extreme in antagonism — ^victories of mere party and 
party spirit, but would be directed, with insensible 
gradations of modification, by the general mind of 
the coimtry expressed in legislation, and simply exe- 
cuted by a truly republican chief magistrate, and by 
the great bulk of permanent and experienced public 
officers. Political "claims" to office for services 
rendered towards nominations and elections, would 
enter for little in the selection of the few eniployea 
whom any President would have to appoint, and 
special qualifications, talent, and character, would 
come to be the main reasons for selection. The 
moral and intellectual tone of the whole government, 
and of all our politics, would be raised. Removable 
for cause alone, all officials, like the employes of 
private establishments, would be under strong in- 
centive to merit permanence by distinguished good 
service and good character, instead of, as now, feeling 
equally sure of continuance for four years, and of the 
probable necessity of having to quit after the next 

There would be a happy end to the present 
vicious relation of party inter-dependence between 


the President and his " friends " in Congress, which 
has gone far towards annulling that independence 
designed by the Constitution to exist, as a vital 
principle of political health, between the executive 
and legislative departments. The one having no 
patronage to bestow, whether on them or on their 
recommended candidates, who are in turn their in- 
fluential supporters at home ; and the other having 
no power over an annual President through ability 
to make or mar his administration by their support 
or disafiection in Congress, each would be, as both 
ought to be, truly independent of the other; and 
higher and better principles of patriotic, rather than 
party action, would alone enter into their counsels 
and govern their conduct. With an end to all further 
question and struggle about Protection, internal im- 
provements, and slavery, would soon die out all the 
old antagonism between North and South, nor could 
any hereafter arise between any of the sections, when 
the action of the Federal Government, truly limited to 
confederate functions, could no longer be applied to 
subjects calculated to generate any great conflicts of 
interests or collision of passions. No disafiection of 
any one towards the rest could ever arise in a con- 
federation which could never wrong nor oppress any 
of its parts, nor be charged with doing so — never 
menace their future security nor ofiend their public 
sentiment — never, indeed, interfere directly or in- 
directly with their domestic concerns; and which 
would be simply, to all alike, the means of majestic 


security and of a collective national greatness and 
dignity which the smallest State would enjoy in the 
fulness of the whole. If any unreasonable discontent 
should ever arise in any single State, it could never 
be other than temporary, just as in South Carolina 
in 1831, before the pervading irritation on the sub- 
ject of slavery had been superadded to that growing 
out of the protective policy, the revolution then 
incipient was soon smothered by the simple fact of 
non -participation by the neighbouring States. 

But it is . needless to carry further this feeble 
picture of what would be the Union thus reformed, 
revived and reinvigorated. This is all true, and 
logically certain, extreme as may seem its contrast 
with all that has been witnessed during our genera- 
tion, under the working of those very defects in our 
system which the argument assumes to have been 
corrected. The noble theme grows on our thoughts 
as they dwell upon it. Every one can carry it out to 
its various and glorious developments. And how 
easily might it all be converted, from this fond specula- 
tion of hope, into a magnificent and substantial fact 1 
One year would suffice, by effecting this reform of 
our system, to secure all this blessing, not alone 
to our own generation, but also to a posterity 
swift -coming beyond all arithmetic. Into such 
a true confederation as this, with true local self- 
government combined with collective national great- 
ness and power, the day would come when the 
Canadian States, with the ready consent of England, 

F 2 


would be eager to enter, to say nothing of the 
neighbouring islands and of those Mexican provinces 
into which the rapid growth of our population must 
necessarily spill over, and which would soon be ambi- 
tious of admission into so beneficial a confederation. 
To the possible and feasible extent of such a con- 
federacy, once well established on the true princtplea 
of confederation applied to the grand continental acale 
of dimensions, there is no assignable limit. The 
greater the extent — the more varied the climatic 
conditions, the more complete the application of the 
scientific principle of the division of labour through 
the diversified characters of difierent forms and modes 
of industry prevalent in difierent sections, and har- 
monised by internal freedom of trade, uniformity in 
all its machinery, and guaranteed peace and tran- 
quillity — the greater only would be the gain of 
collective prosperity and happiness to all and each, 
and the stronger the attachment of all and each to 
such a Union. 

In this prospect of the Union regenerated out of 
its present seeming death-throes, into all that our 
highest hopes have ever imagined its future, cannot 
indeed some stimulus be found to the efforts, and to 
the sacrifice even of the prejudice, pride, and passions 
of the day, by which, and by which alone, it may yet 
be realized ? 



One thing is certain. Such a Reunion must be 
voluntary, or it cannot be at all. A great effort of 
magnanimity and of wisdom must be made, and made 
on both sides. The North, as the stronger, and as 
the majority party — let me add, as the side from 
which proceeded the influences of irritation which 
have generated a too excessive violence of resentment 
on the other, namely, the Protective tariffs, the anti- 
slavery agitation, and the sectionalisation of a dominant 
majority— ought to take the noble and jatrjptii 
initiative. Reconciliation must begin with 
All spirit of vindictiveness must be discarded, as 
basely below the level of the high occasion. Even 
though it should not be worthily met with sympathetic 
response of the Southern heart, it would be a grand 
proceeding in itself. The proposed amendments to 
the Constitution would be good and right in them- 
selves, and essential to any long-continued permanence 
of the Confederation, whether the South be brought 
back into it or not. It would place the South very 
much in the wrong if it should reject the tendered 
right hand of such reconciliation, when proposed on 
terms of full redress of past grievances and guarantee 
against recurrence ; terms on which reunion recipro- 
cally honourable, and therefore sincere and cordial, 
could really take place. If the coercive policy bias 
indeed left such a thing as a Reunion party in the 
South, it would immensely strengthen and develop it. 


It would create it if uone such yet exists. Even in a 
political, nay in a mere military point of view, it would 
be as sagacious a proceeding as in its higher aspects 
it would be magnanimous. And if it is from the 
North that it ought to proceed, it is only from the 
North that it can be expected, or that it could with 
any benefit proceed. The South has already reformed 
its constitution to great advantage, committing only 
the mistake of giving a long six -years' term to a non- 
re-eHgible President. Any overture from the South 
would wear the humiliating aspect of submission. It 
is, in a word, impossible. The adoption by the North 
of most of their undenied improvements in the Con- 
stitution would be in itself a great step on the road to 
reconciliation. If we should now add the important 
further improvement of the annual term, and that of 
a new special high court of Stateis to arbitrate disputed 
questions of constitutionality between the two co- 
ordinate sovereignties, it would be but perfecting the 
work of amendment well begun by the South. Great 
as are the difficulties in the way, with good-will they 
are not insuperable, while the probable difficulties and 
the certain evils to both sides which are involved in 
non-reconciUation are in truth still greater. Properly 
undertaken and properly carried out, I do not believe 
that this sublime work of reconciliation would fail. 
The blessing promised to the " peace-makers '* would 
at least rest upon it. 

This brings us to the consideration of the obstacles 
in its way which have been above briefly indicated. 



1. The material one of the Tariff interest at the 
North. The war debt settles that difBculty. That 
debt is tariff enough for our day and generation ; «ot^ 
for ours alone, unfortunately. Every possible resource 
of revenue must be tasked to the utmost to pay off 
that debt; indirect as well as direct. Our tariffs 
fmist be based on the revenue principle, to which the 
South has never objected ; they must be adjusted to 
the highest revenue scale on all articles, and must be 
applied to all revenue-yielding articles without pro- 
tective discrimination. And even independently of 
that guarantee of a general high scale of duties, the 
industry of the North has a higher interest in the 
restoration and perpetuation of free trade with the 
South, and in the prevention of that state of things 
which would remain under two confederacies, jealous 
and hostile at heart, than even in high duties under a 
common tariff. This difficulty vanishes on inspection. 
So, too, does the minor one of the Internal Improve- 
ments of the West. It will be long before the Federal 
Government can have any money to spend on such 
objects. Provision musi be made for them by means 
of State action, and concert of States locally interested, 
with defrayment of cost by tolls sanctioned by Con- 
gress. This system would always have been far more 
efficient and productive than that of reliance on the 
partial, reluctant, and disputed action of the Federal 
Government. Mr. Douglas, the great representative 


of the West, in his latter years was a full convert to 
this system. He has freely so avowed to me, as I 
believe he also did on the floor of the Senate. The 
Confederate Constitution (Art. I. sect. x. 3) has wisely 
adopted the same. 


2. The old Southern hatred of "the Yankee,'' 
with the superadded animosity generated by the war. 

The Southern contempt of "the Yankee" (partly 
real and partly affected), in his assumed devotion 
to the dollar, and deficiency in fighting quality, was 
always very unjust and very absurd. The Yankee, 
though full of ingenuity and perseverance to make, 
cares no more for the dollar than does the Southerner, 
or any other man of any other race. No man is 
either braver or more unflinching than the Yankee in 
a cause approved by his conscience and judgment, or 
more capable of sacrifice for an idea. All this has 
now been amply proved. His idea in this war has 
been Country and Nationality ; as that idea has been 
understood by him. The early military success of 
the Confederate side of the quarrel tended to foster 
the prejudice in question; and made it, perhaps, 
indispensable that the fighting, once fatally begun, 
should go on for a while until accounts were squared 
on the bloody ledger of battle. But enough has now 
been done to satisfy that condition for true and 


cordial reunion. Both sides, henceforth and for ever, 
whether as confederate fellow-citizens and brethren, 
or as independent neighbours, will, at least, respect 
and esteem each other, with the sympathetic senti- 
ment always necessarily existing between brave men 
who have borne themselves with equal and kindred 
honour in mortal combat. The spectacle on both 
sides has been magnificent, of bravery, of self-sacri- 
fice for great ideas, or ideas held great, of grand 
popular uprising, of perseverance in supposed duty — 
magnificent on each side, doubly magnificent in its 
national totality, as my heart, at least, clings to the 
hope of being allowed to contemplate it. It presents 
the terrible beauty of one's own house and home on 
fire. Sad as has been the mutual calamity of this 
great war, logically absurd on the whole while held 
logically sound on each side, yet history will devote 
to it one of her noblest pages as a grand evidence of 
the capabiUties of a people under republican institu- 
tions. Perhaps, in the career of nations, such passages 
are, from time to time, necessary to spiritualize, to 
ennoble and to purify the national life, too long stag- 
nant in the tranquillity of peace and of excessive 
material prosperity. We could not get it in foreign 
war — ^geography and the pacific industrial character of 
our system combined to forbid it ; perhaps civil war 
was necessary as the only form in which it was possible 
to us. Baptized at our birth in holy blood, perhaps 
we had reached the age at which a second sacramental 
confirmation was needed for our national salvation. 


And then, as to the superadded war animosity 
which would seem to have dug a yawning chasm of 
hate never to be bridged with renewed fraternity of 
fellow-citizenship. This may seem, but is not, hope- 
less. The Swiss cantons have fought bitterly in civil 
war — ^they were in hostile array, the confederacy 
against a minority section, so late as about fifteen 
years ago* — but yet there they are! Immense 
interests press upon us, on both sides, towards recon- 
ciliation. The nature of the case is such, unhappily, 
that neither can yield, neither can suhnity but in 
shame and disgrace. Therefore, neither will )deld, 
neither mil submit. The common evil of the war 
weighs, meanwhile, alike on both ; and to both on the 
future as on its present. It is confessed that the North 
could not wind up the war within the present sum- 
mer, even with triumph, with a debt short of 1,000 or 
1,200 millions of dollars. It is compelled to make 
more overwhelming preparations to ensure military 
success, because for it the war is in the enemy's far- 
stretching country. At the same time it can better 
bear its heavier, than can the South its lesser sacrifices 

* It was in consequence of what was called the " Sunderbund 
war " (or secession), which grew out of religion as ours out of anti- 
slavery and party, that the Swiss Confederacy reformed its consti- 
tution. They adopted substantially our model, but they had the 
wisdom to keep clear of our feature of a semi-monarchical quadrennial 
presidency ; adopting the wise arrangement already mentioned on a 
previous page of an annual presidency, filled in rotation by the 
members of a council representing the different sections of the Con- 
federacy, and thus avoiding our monster evil and danger of great and 
violent national parties. 


in a war of home-defence. Both began the mutual 
madness of the war with the belief that it would be 
soon over, and that it would bring no great strain 
upon them. The administration drew upon triumph 
a confident bill at ninety days, without grace. The 
South, on the other hand, never supposed that the 
Democratic party of the North would go, or could be 
led, into it, as has been the case, or that there would 
be any such vast uprising of united and determined 
popular energy. The fact has proved that unless 
reconciliation, reciprocally and mutually beneficial, 
can intervene, there can be no end to the war, short 
of consequences, which thought sickens as it follows 
out. It is one of those wars of equal woe to van- 
quished and to victors.* Even success to the South 

* William Pitt was unquestionably a devoted patriot, and the 
incarnation of ** loyalty " as an Englishman. Tet he dared in June, 
1781, to hold the following language in Parliament ; and, strange to 
say, not only was he neither expelled from the House nor committed 
to the Tower (the Fort La Fayette of London), though Parliament 
was nearly two to one against him, and both king and people were even 
more passionately convinced of the justice of their side of the quarrel 
in the American War than are now our Government and people at 
the North, but he was soon after Prime Minister, darling of the 
sovereign, and idol of the nation : — ** A noble lord who spoke early 
has, in the warmth of his zeal, called this a holy war. For my part, 
though the right honourable gentleman who made the motion and 
some other gentlemen have been moi*e than once in the course of 
the debate severely reprehended for calling it a wicked or accursed 
war, I am persuaded, and I will a€&rm, that it is a most accursed, 
wicked, barbarous, cruel, unnatural, unjust, and diabolical war. . . . 
The expense of it has been enormous, far beyond any former expe- 
rience^ and yet, what has the British nation received in return ? 
Nothing but a series of ineffective victories or severe defeats — 
victories only celebrated with temporary triumph over our brethren 
whom we would trample down, and defeats which fill the land with 


would leave it in a position incomparably inferior to 
that it would occupy in the Confederation reunited 
in the manner now advocated. On the other hand, 
to the North, present conquest of the South would 
put no end to the struggle, which would then, for a 
while, only change its character. This is a '' conflict 
of ideas," and battle is no arbitrament of American 
ideas. Such victory would but embitter those it 
humiliated. It would effect no real reunion. It 
would be followed but by the temporary passiveness 
of the overthrown wrestler, prostrate under the weight 
of his heavier conqueror, till repose should have re- 
newed his exhausted strength. Continued miUtary 
occupation of subjugated, but implacably resentful 
States, is simply absurd and impracticable for any 
length of time, under our Confederate system, and in 
our age of 9elf-govemment. Meconciliation is the 
only solution ; and reconciliation implies a new basis 
of fair adjustment, with reciprocal deference to each 
other's position, and respect for each other's honour. 
Reconciliation's incompatible with conquest. Who 
wants future brotherhood with the man whom he has 
forced to cower in degraded submission to his superior 
power? But the equal friend with whom I have 
fought^ even in deadly strife, in a cause regarded by 
each as good and true, and each with the honours of 

mourning for the loss of dear and valuable relatives slain in the 
impious cause of enforcing unconditional submission. Where is the 
Englishman who, on reading the narrative of those bloody and well- 
fought contests, can refrain lamenting the loss of so much British 
blood shed in such a cause, or from weeping on whatever side victory 
might be declared ? " (Stanhopes Life o/Fitty voL i. p. 61.) 


kindred courage — ^with him I can afterwards reunite, 
on terms of a more cordial friendship than ever 
existed before, during the long period of the gathering 
storm of our quarrel, provided it be terminated by 
the manly embrace of a true reconciliation. Such a 
reconciliation would be found in such a reunion as is 
here proposed, on the basis, and the only possible 
basis, of the Constitution reformed so as to redress all 
past grievances, and to obviate their future recurrence. 
The South equally with the North, the North equally 
with the South, could honourably, cordially, nobly, 
reunite on such a basis. God only grant that it may 
be in the hearts and capabilities of both to do so 1 
Eternal honour to both if they prove adequate to this 
high and wise magnanimity ! Chiefest honour to the 
one which shall take the initiative in it ; and it is 
only, I repeat, from the stronger side that that initia- 
tive can come with grace and with effect. Nor would 
that initiative, if taken in the proper spirit and proper 
mode, fail to win back to the Union that which no 
victories by land or sea can ever recover, the heart of 
the high-spirited and high-minded people of the 
South — aye, even of South Carolina. Could the ghost 
of the great Calhoun be raised like that of Samuel, 
such, I am very sure, would then be his most earnest 


3. Still another difficulty in the way is the present 
fixedness of the Southern mind upon the idea lliat the 


self-protective '' right of secession " must exist under 
any form of confederation ; while in antagonism to 
this is the Northern idea that that '' right " is neces- 
sarily fatal to all union, to all nationality, to all 
political permanence. This *' right " conceded (argues 
the Northern mind) converts confederation into a mere 
rope of sand ; and in our confederacy it is the more 
intolerable because of its geography, that is to say, 
the physical relations of its States and sections which 
cause certain States to occupy the controlling points 
of ingress and egress indispensable to the industrial 
life of others, such as the mouths of the Mississippi, 
the Hudson, the Delaware, and the Chesapeake, 
and the extreme Southern forts off the point of 

Such, I say, is the Northern argument ; and it is 
sound, and one of the great points of this great ques- 
tion. On the other hand, the Southern mind argues 
that the Union includes equally the two twin ideas of 
national constitution and of State compact ; that the 
people of any State are bound to the one only so long 
as the conditions of the other are faithfully and fra- 
ternally observed ; and that the right of secession, 
correlative to original accession, affords the only pro- 
tection to the weaker States against* oppression by the 
stronger. They refer to Massachusetts, when she felt 
aggrieved, as having first taught them, and more than 
once repeated, the doctrine, and to a Fennsylvanian 
authority (Rawle on the Constitution of the United 
States of the calm period of 1825) as having fully 


sanctioned it.* This argument, too, is historically ^ 
true, and has its degree of political soundness. Still 
the Northern one is at least as good, and a little better, 
that is to say, better in the proportion of the relative 
forces, inasmuch as the geographical relations above 
mentioned do in fact exist ; have entered into the 
reciprocal bearings of the compact upon the vital 
interests of the parts, and, on the law of self-preser- 
vation, the vast regions thus dependent on certain 
commanding points cannot be expected without, at' 
least, a fight for it to the last extremity, to allow them 
to pass into alien, which the contingencies of the 
future may transform into hostile hands. And this 
argument has the more force because Louisiana and 
Florida were not original parties to the compact, but 
are States created out of territories subsequently 
acquired by purchase by the whole Union, Even in 
the extremest phase of the Southern theory, that of the 
Constitution being a treaty and a mere treaty (treaties 
often declaring themselves to establish perpetual peace 
and amity), when one party chooses to regard a treaty 
as broken by the other side, and therefore to declare 
it at an end, the other party, disputing the charge of 
having been the first to break the faith of the bond, 
has the clear right to fight for it when essential interests 
of its own are involved in it. Neither side has a 
'* right of secession " from a subsisting treaty important 

* *^ It was foreseen that there would be a natural tendency to 
increase the number of States with the anticipated increase of popu- 
lation. It was also known, though it was not avowed, that a State 
might withdraw itself." (P. 297.) 


to the other side. He may assert the might of seces- 
sion if he believes himself justified by sufficient cause, 
but it is under penalty of war. So that after all the 
'' right of secession "' from a confederation, even though 
regarded simply as the cancelment of a treaty or 
compact, cannot in practical efiect be distinguished 
from that right of revolution which is inseparable from 
all forms of government. To quarrel over that **right" 
is merely to dispute about words. The Montgomery 
Constitution itself stipulates no such reserved '' right," 
and in the event of any State hereafter asserting it on 
the ground of the purely compact character, as between 
sovereignties, given unambiguously to that instrument 
by its preamble, the case would stand simply on the 
ground of a broken treaty. It would be simply a 
question of expediency to the remaining members 
whether to acquiesce or to " coerce." Coercion might 
be, according to circumstances, the height of folly, 
but it would be an undeniable political right. 

The true solution of such a political problem, other- 
wise insoluble except by the law of force, is to be 
found in such a reform of the terms of the Confedera- 
tion, of the political system established by it, as shall 
prevent the possible occurrence of either of those 
extremes which tend to collision, of any near approach 
to either of such extremes. Give the Federal power 
all the force necessary for the common defence, and 
for the maintenance of those great common interests 
of harmonious uniformity above indicated, but divest 
it of any powers capable of being misused by dominant 


majorities in a manner, or to objects, offensive and 
oppressive to great minorities. This, and this alone, 
is the golden rule, the true secret (it cannot be too 
often repeated) of permanent confederation on a large 
scale. The right of secession can never be recognised 
in a compact of union any more than the right of 
revolution in the charter of any form of government. 
But both the one (tnd the other exist in human nature, 
and must always exist in foro conscientia subject to 
ultimate adjudication by the sword. They are, in 
truth, one and the same ** right "' or the same wrong, 
according to the result, secession in a confederacy 
being simply a revolution of States. Political wisdom 
consists in so adjusting reciprocal rights, and so 
administering powers as to obviate any human pro- 
bability of the occurrence of any of the occasions in 
which the latent heat of public discontent pan ever be 
developed into the conflagration of revolution, whether 
revolution by an insurgent people under a consolidated 
Government, or by the organized political powers of 
States in a confederacy. And this is precisely what 
is sought, and what, I think, would be secured by the 
reforms now proposed in our own Confederation. If 
any better adapted to the object, and with less varia- 
tion from the old-established system, can be devised, 
a National Convention^ assembling with a view to 
Reunion through Reform^ will be the proper body to 
suggest them. Its action would be supported by 
every Northern State in spite of Abolitionism, in- 
cluding Massachusetts, and would eventually be 


responded to by every Southern one, including South 


4. This brings us to our next impediment, namely, 
that general repugnance which has heretofore existed 
to touching the sacred work of the firamers of the 
Constitution with the presumptuous hand of amend- 
ment ; and the especial repugnance of the North to 
touch it, at this time, until after full re-establishment 
of its authority. This veneration of the mere letter of 
the Constitution has been carried into superstition. 
The dread of touching it has grown out of the tradition 
of the difficulty with which its compromises were 
adopted. But that very fact was, in truth, pregnant 
with a future necessity of amendment. Compromises 
are essentially experimental. Results of conflict, they 
involve the germs of conflict, as fruits are but seed- 
vessels. A constitution of compromises perpetuates 
in parties the original divergence of opinions. More- 
over, our Federal Constitution has been already twice 
largely amended. One of its prominent features, the 
intended selection of the President by an electoral 
college of supposed wise first men of the States, has 
been from the outset practically subverted, in a manner 
equivalent to a radical change. The framers un- 
doubtedly meant to guard by that means against the 
historically well-known danger to the public tranquillity 
of popular election of executives with a long term 


and great powers of office, approximating them to the 
character of elective monarchs. That intention having 
failed in practice, and that very danger having been 
80 far realized that it is on that identical rock of 
Presidential elections and Presidential parties that v^e 
have split, it is now for us to resort to other means 
(cancelment of the patronage and redaction of the 
term) for attaining the same end. Again, most if not 
all of the State Constitutions have been amended; 
some of them more than once, and very extensively ; 
though most of them had been framed with the 
benefit of the Federal model, and in several cases- with 
participation of the Federal framers. Time alone 
could test the practical working of a system at once so 
novel and so complex ; a Confederate system under- 
taken in spite of the many historical failures of con- 
federations. Time, time and growth, could alone reveal 
the points of detail which might be expected to need 
amendment. Instead of permitting superstition to ob- 
struct progress and reform, our attention ought rather 
to have been directed to the object of closely watching 
its working with a view to amendments calculated to 
perfect it, and to obviate approaching dangers. The 
time has now arrived when it must be done. If a 
certain pride in it, which was half vanity, restrained us 
before, our pride is surely humbled enough now. If 
fear of disturbing the slumbering lion of discord 
between North and South, alas 1 we have now to tame 
his awakened and all-bloody rage. Not having ex- 
tinguished sparks, we must now put out a conflagration 



and insure for the future. The present state of thmgs 
is one of the results of the practical working of our 
system, a bad one going far to counteract many that 
are good and glorious. It is only by adequate amend- 
ments that we can remedy and prevent the recurrence 
of the one, and secure the perpetuation and develop- 
ment of the others. If Congress is inadequate to the 
task, as a body too full of mere party politicians, many 
of them unsuitable too to this high function, a national 
convention of best men ought to assemble as soon as 
possible. Though the seceded States would not of 
course send representatives to it, yet if it should act 
for the participating States alone, and should have the 
Heaven-inspired wisdom to adopt the amendments 
known to be those best adapted to the object of 
winning back, to a renewed and regenerated Union, 
the hearts and judgments of the South, it will 
accomplish what miUions in arms might march from 
Maine to Mexico without effecting. 

Then as to the unfitness of the movement, for 
amendments at this time. '' Hereafter, if you will, 
but not now ! Let there be first complete triumph of 
the Government, consummated victory in the war, 
utter overthrow and prostration of the great rebellion 
— ^its back broken — ^its spirit crushed — ^then, and not 
till then, will be the moment for any proper amend- 
ment of the Constitution:'' — such is the argument 
sure to be made by many of the North who might 
otherwise be well inclined towards the amendments 
proposed. To them I answer, that the tremendous 


determination already evinced by the North, the 
tremendous development of energy put forth in support 
of it, the vast superiority of power arrayed and ready 
in reserve for that purpose, are quite enough to make 
good the dignity and honour of the Government in 
presence of the revolution opposed to it. The warning 
lesson to future "rebellion," from whatever section, 
stands complete enough as it is. The Federal Govern- 
ment has sufficiently asserted ittolf. The sooner 
pacification can now be made, the better. The prose- 
cution of the war is costing the North between two 
and three millions of dollars a day, and it is only just 
entering upon its second period and phase, that of 
campaigning carried down into the South proper. 
Bad and vindictive passions at the North might be 
gratified by forcing the South to drink to the lees the 
cup of humiliation under conquest; but that very 
process, besides all the other evils, perplexities and 
dangers for both and for all that may be involved in 
it, will but make more and more difficult, nay, at last 
impossible, that real reconciliation of hearts and minds 
without which there can be no true reunion worth 
ten years' purchase. I do not ask that the war, now 
that it has begun and has gone so far, should at this 
moment be given up and replaced by conciliation. I 
do not ask that the sword should be summarily 
thrown away. I ask only that it be accompanied 
with the olive branch of simultaneous and alter- 
native conciliation. The approaching season of 
necessary suspension to the actual fighting afibrds 


an auspicious moment for it; and for a thousand 
reasons, political, moral, and even military, such is 
the dictate of true wisdom, of true patriotism, and 
of true unionism. 

And amnesty is no conciliation. Pardon, to high- 
spirited men, is only the bitterest form of insult. 
Something much more, something going much deeper, 
must be done. A door must be flung wide open for 
honourable return, if we would have them return at 
all. The wrongs must be redressed. The rights 
must be frankly recognised. The future must be 
plainly and securely guaranteed. The demonstrated 
defects of the Constitution must be amended. Thus, 
and thus only, can there be reconciliation ; thus only 
any restoration of the Union that shall be aught else 
than a worse than useless mockery and lie. 

For my part, indeed, I would that the war had 
never begun ; or, if it had to be, that the combined 
abolitionists and republican party politicians had done 
all their own fighting, the Protectionists doing all the 
paying ; the democracy of the North remaining free 
and unembarrassed to do their proper work of re- 
storing the Union. The conciliatory in lieu of the 
coercive policy was the true one from the outset.* 

* Lest this opinion should he deemed " treasonahle,*' I must 
fortify the position with the following curious extract from a despatch 
of Mr. Seward to the American legation in London, of the date of 
April 10th, 1861, in which I take only the liherty of italicising — 

''The President neither looks for nor apprehends any actual and 
permanent dismemherment of the American Union, especially by a 
line of latitude. He is not disposed to reject a cardinal dogma of 
the South, namely, that the Federal Qovemment cannot reduce the 


Non-recognition of the seceded confederacy, abstract 
assertion of the unchanged Union, abstinence from 
the coarse sure to overload both sections vnth engr- 
mous debt and enormous loss of propowy^ ^aTO^ai the 
same time sure to place between the two a broad 
abyss of blood— that, in my sorrowfiil judgment, to- 
gether with amendment of the Constitution, was the 
true policy at the outset. The reunion party would 

seceding States to obedience by conquest, even although he were 
disposed to question that proposition. But, in &ct^ the President 
willingly accepts it as true. Only an imperial or detpatie Government 
could subjugate thoroughly ditaffeeted and insurreetionarg members of the 
State. This Federal Republican system of ours is of all forms of 
government the very one which is most unfitted for such a labour. 
Happily, however, this is only an imaginary defect. The system 
has within itself adequate, peaceful, conservative, and recuperative 
forces. Firmness on the part of the Government in preserving and 
maintaining the public institutions and property, and in executing 
the laws whose authority can be exercised without waging war, com- 
bined with such measures of justice, moderation, and forbearance, 
as will disarm reasoning opposition, will be sufficient to secure the 
public safety until returning reflection, concurring with the fearful 
experience of social evils, the inevitable fruits of fection, shall bring 
the recusant members cheerfully back into the family, which, after 
all, must prove their best and happiest, as it undeniably is their 
natural home. The Constitution of the United States provides for 
that return by authorizing Congress, on implication, to be made by a 
certain majority of the States, to assemble a National Conventiouy in 
which the organic law can, if it be needful, be revised so as to remove 
all obstacles to a reunion, so suitable to the habits of the people, 
and so eminently conducive to the common safety and welfare. 
Keeping that remedy steadily in view, the President, on the one 
hand, will not suffer the Fedml authority to fall into abeyance, nor 
will he, on the other, aggravate existing evils by attempts ai coercion, 
which must assume the form of direct war against any of the revolutionary 

This was all veiy wise and true, and it lightens in some degree 
Mr. Seward's personal responsibility for the war, except in so fer 


have remained stronger than ever at the South, and 
Alexander H. Stephens would have been its moral 
head. The hearts of half the Southern people would 
have still been in the Union. Conciliation on a basis 
of constitutional amendment, effectual to secure future 

as he accepted the ''solidarity " of that responsibility by remaiiiing 
in the cabinet after he learned that at thai very date the orders were 
already in course of execution, which were sure to provoke the 
opening of Beauregard's batteries against Fort Sumter ; that already 
a secretly prepared expedition for the relief of Sumt^wason its 
way, and that defiant notice of it had been sent to v&SmTRckens, 
notwithstanding the written opinions of General Scott and all the 
highest military and naval authorities that it was impossible to reach 
Sumter with relief and notwithstanding the nearly unanimous vote of 
the cabinet for its evacuation. Will the secret history of all this 
mysterious manceuvring about Fort Sumter ever be known ? Mr. 
Seward has since thought proper to publish this important despatch, 
which now reads so strangely. Was it by way of a private protest — 
a sort of stage aside — with a far-sighted view to the day when the ques- 
tion should come up of the responsibility for the war, for its resulting 
debt, with nothing left in the end to show for it, for all its blood 
and hatred^-and for all the ulterior consequences when the North 
will have to deal practically with the one or the other of the two 
alternatives, either that of retiring exhausted from the impossible 
task of thoroughly subjugating the South at home, or that of dis- 
posing of the conquered South, then to remain on the hands of the 
North like the elephant a man had the misfortune to win in a raffle ; 
or like Mexico after we had so far conquered her as to destroy her 
armies and take her capital, when, sorely embarrassed tcAat next to do^ 
we were only too glad to pay her a vast sum of money, ostensibly as 
a price for California, already ours by the laws of war, but in fiict as 
an inducement to a peace which should afford us a decent mode of 
putting an end to the war ? Glorious as had been its battles, uniform 
our career of success, utterly unable as was Mexico to renew the 
hopeless contest, yet if the Mexicans had held out for twenty instead 
of ten millions, we should probably have ended with paying it. We 
give Mr. Seward the due credit for his somewhat tardy peace policy 
then, on the 10th of April, though he is not the first wizard who 
could no longer rule the storm which his own spells had raised. 


harmony, would have brought us together again in 
two years, or at most after another Presidential elec- 
tion. But Party willed it otherwise. Events hurried 
forward on a different tack. Perhaps it was necessary 
that our future generations should have a great lesson 
of the consequences of over-action in the Federal 
Government, of sectionalism in parties, of revolution 
by irritated sections. Perhaps nothing short of this 
would have sufficed to bring us to the point of re- 
cognising the defects in our system, and the necessity 
of so ainending them as to secure a great future of 
purity restored to our politics, and of perpetuation 
secured to the Union through the modifications now 
become indispensable in order to adapt it to our 
present and future scale of magnitude. Perhaps, too, 
as already said in another form, a great providential 
storm of convulsion, suffering, and patriotic passion, 
with thunderings and lightnings, and earth washed 
vfdth the tears of heaven, was needed in the moral 
order of politics, to purify and brighten the atmo- 
sphere of our national life, corrupted by too long and 
excessive material prosperity. At any rate, we have 
now again a fitting moment for Reconciliation, during 
the necessary pause before next autumn's renewal of 
the fighting. 


5. The next impediment in the way, is the particular 
repugnance of the Republican political leaders to any 


adjustment, by compromise, which should seem to 
involve failure in their great undertaking of crushing 
and humbling the Southern rebellion, as a vital party 
interest to them. 

This is indeed a pretty serious difficulty, in view of 
their present power at the North and in the Govern- 
ment. Are not those Whig, now " Republican '* chiefis 
of party, and politicians of all gradations, too deeply 
committed to this, their war, to leave any hope that 
they can ever consent to such a solution ? 

Many of them will no doubt thus argue and act 
accordingly. But on the other hand, the wiser heads 
among them ought to think themselves fortunate to 
get out of it so well. If they fail in the war, what 
wiU become of them, with the responsibility upon 
them for the murdered Union, and for the national 
debt left as its monument ? And even if they succeed 
in breaking down the armed revolution, what will 
they then do with the South, subdued but un- 
reconciled — nay, still more embittered by the humilia- 
tion of defeat? 

Permanent military occupation is absurd. The 
political perplexities will only just begin, when the 
military shall have been solved. As soon as the 
fighting fever is over, and the work of reconstruction 
of the Union shall have to be taken up in earnest, a 
great reaction at the North must set in. The general 
feeling will be that the democratic party alone can do 
that work — that after the " beggar on horseback " had 
ridden to where the proverb leaves him, a wiser rider 


must mount to bring back the steed — that after the 
snake of the fable has got into the cleft stick by having 
trusted the tail with the lead, the head must now 
resume its natural function of guidance. And again, 
what will become of them ? That work will then 
have to be done, if then possible at all, by means of 
precisely some such constitutional reform as is now 
proposed. The Republicans, as a party, will then be 
sacrificed by the North to the reconciliation of the 
Union, for there can be no reconstruction without 
reconciliation. By frankly and patriotically uniting 
with us now in the work of pacification through con- 
stitutional reform^ they will remain in good position 
in the renewed Union. Their work will stand open 
to justification in argument as having been a^^legai^ 
necessity in its time, and an inevitable means of 
leading up to the regeneration. In the new modera- 
tion in our national politics and parties which will 
result from the proposed reform, they will have their 
full share in the common benefit of the new *' era of 
good feelings/' But this is a petty branch of our 
great theme. I willingly leave it to those whom it 
concerns, trusting only that they will be wise in time. 
If they stand in the way, the work must be done 
vfdthout them, by the united hosts of uprising demo- 
cratic party, in patriot firatemization with the more 
conservative, the more magnanimous, and the more 
truly Union-loving, non-politicians among the repub- 
lican ranks. 



6. I have reserved to the last the apparently greatest 
of the di£Bculties in our way, the exasperation of the 
Abolitionists, and of the anti-slavery party generally, 
at the thought of any adjustment, under which not 
only would slavery at the South be placed beyond the 
reach of their indirect attacks through the machinery 
of the Federal Government, but it may even hereafter 
extend into new territory. 

This influence we must simply beat down, as we 
easily can whenever we can get before the people the 
plain question of choice between it and Reunion. Its 
strength per se was never more than that of an adopted 
wing of the great presidential party, to the whole of 
which, however, it was able to impart its own apparent 
character, just as a little wine will colour, or a little 
infusion embitter the whole glass. There is already a 
decided disintegration of the ** conservative *' from the 
" radical " portion of the Republican party. If the 
approaching Disunion had been realized by the North, 
anti-slavery would have carried very few of the States 
at the last election. It would have very little real 
power against Reunion at another. The four millions 
of negroes can neither be exported nor left emancipated 
on the Southern soil at a moment when Northern 
States are passing fresh laws against the admission of 
blacks or mulattoes within their borders. They have 
made no response to the opportunity of self-assertion 



afforded them by this war.* Republican '' radicalism 
is perfectly logical when it insists on emancipation as 
the only alternative to reconciliation, that reconciliation 
which it consistently abhors. But emancipation is 
impracticable. All Republican Conservatives, even 
including (it is said) Mr. Lincoln, are against it. The 
very arch-advocate of coercion in the cabinet has 
recently written the declaration of his ''moral cer- 
tainty ** that " to free the slaves of the South without 
removing them would result in the massacre of them.'" 
Yet that removal is flatly a physical impossibility. 
There is no available machinery of transportation 
adequate to such an exodus. A few thousands, or a 
few tens of thousands, might be deported, with tears 
and curses against their own meddlesome "friends," 
but the natural growth would meanwhile exceed that 
diminution. And as for the cost of such exodus by 
navigation — the North is going to stoop and groan 

* This 18 freely confessed by the Northern press. A recent 
Philadelphia paper says that ''the fact that no advantage was taken 
of the opportunity exhibits an apathy, and a strange aversion to 
freedom, on the part of the negro race." Mr. Thurlow Weed's own 
paper says: ''He (the negro) has not manifested that alacrity to 
embrace the opportunity for freedom which we had anticipated. . . . 
We counted upon insumotions — ^teirible and wide-spread insurrec- 
tions—among the servile population, as an inevitable and almost 
immediate consequence of a war between the Government and the 
secessionists. . . . But the result we anticipated has not come 
to pass. Slavery, so far from being an element of weakness, 
has been an element of strength to the rebels. The blacks have 
fitiled, except in a few cases, to embrace the opportunities of freedom. 
They have fidled as a dass to prove that they very ardently covet a 
change of drcumstanoes." 


sufficiently under the load of the debt incurred in 
coming up to this point ; and it will never superadd 
to it the further burthen of deporting the slaves of the 
South, destroying in the act one of the miedn founda- 
tions of its ovirn industrial and commercial prosperity. 
The South has the ** fixed fact '* of these four millions 
of an inferior race, occupjring towards the superior 
race, in point of relative intellectual power, about the 
relation existing between the generation of children 
and that of adults in any homogeneous community. 
The whole social and industrial system of the South 
now rests upon it, is inseparably blended with it, and 
the whole public sentiment of the South sustains it. 
They believe that existing relation^HnmNl which involves 
protecting and guiding control on the one side, sub- 
mission on the otheiM^hich is called slaveryrto be 
ethnologically necessary between two races, thus dis- 
tinct, and thus placed in a juxtaposition from which 
there is no escape. It is not merely the limited 
number of actual owners of slaves who thus sustain it. 
All the manifold ramifications of society and industry, 
associated in the common life of the country, do so 
equally. The slave interest at the South is not less 
thoroughly and inseparably incorporated with the 
whole complex structure of the social and national life 
than is the land interest at the North. If there is or 
can exist anything on which the all but universal 
public feeling and opinion of a people are at once 
united and intensely and vitally sensitive, it is the 
institution of negro slavery at the South, with the 


exception of a few border or mountain spots where it 
may be said scarcely to exist. The dream of ever 
coercing the South into its aboUtion, or into any sub- 
mission involving its abolition, is the merest madness 
of midsummer. 

Now, at the North, AboUtionism and parly spirit 
have attempted to take this great social problem out 
of the hands of those whom it alone concerned, and 
out of those of the Almighty Creator of men and Ruler 
of nations — the present fratricidal war is the sad 
result of their presumption. They must be content to 
restore it to the slower, but surer, and wiser, guidance, 
of that Divine Omnipotence. They must learn the 
first principles of the poUtical science of confederation. 
They must be content to rule, in the fear of God, their 
own household, without intermeddling with those of 
their neighbours who happen to be associated, in poli- 
tical partnership for other common purposes, with them. 
Their irritating agitation once at an end, for want of 
points of jurisdictional contact with the slavery of the 
South, and of consequent conscientious responsibility 
about it, the question, as a Southern social and econo- 
mical one, would resume its normal character and 
course. If England does not like negro slavery, she 
can give up that profitable industrial and commercial 
partnership with it which makes her to the full as 
much responsible for it as is any slave-owner in South 
Carolina. Nothing easier, if she is willing to pay for 
principle and sentiment, as she is so anxious that 
other people should do for her principle and her senti- 


ment.* So too can New England, with all her cotton- 
mills, navigation, and thousand-fold mechanical pro- 

* I do not mean to say that England has not *'paid^ Bomething. 
She paid twenty millions sterling for her West India emancipation. 
But the addition of 20 to 800 millions of the National Debt^ an 
addition easily voted by gentlemen in Parliament when pressed by 
a home agitation, and dealing with other people's slaves and paying 
for them with other people's money, was a bagatelle of merit of 
which a great deal too much has been made. So, too, England sup* 
ports her fleet on the African coast for the suppression of the slave- 
trade. But she has to employ the great navy, which it is her system 
to maintain, and it is her policy to develop the great growing tnule of 
the African coast. All this philanthropy is at once cheap and showy. 
England gets more than its cost in self-glorification. If she was 
really in earnest about it, why has she not stopped the slave-trade 
by closing to it the ports of Cuba, its only market? Blockade 
of Havana, Cadiz, and Barcelona would have done it effectually 
long ago, and this reproach has been often retorted to her on this 
subject. Her right imder her treaty with Spain is unquestionable. 
But motives of political convenience were in the way. In this 
matter of our American slavery, England is as much a partner as 
though she held the titles of property in the slaves, and as though 
her public officexis went out to the cotton-fields every morning as 
overseers. It is maintained by a triple partnership, between the 
South which produces the cotton, and the North and England which 
carry and work it up. It is absurd to throw on one member of the 
great firm the sole moral responsibility of the business jointly car- 
ried on. The only difference between them is that the one main- 
tains it thinking it right, and the other two in spite of thinking it 
wrong. I prefer the position of the former. True, it would be a 
great sacrifice for England to give up the cotton, a great sacrifice to 
her commerce, her manu&ctures, her revenue, and I do not claim 
that she ought to make it. Only I do claim that she ought not 
to make sham pretences of moral superiority over those who are 
able to raise the cotton only because she is eager to buy it from 
them. I have a great respect for the English people, and there is a 
great deal of goodness, enlightenment, truthfrilness, integrity and 
philanthropy in them. But I deny their assumption of superiority 
over us in this matter; and I prove my respect for their manly 
love of fair play, by thus calling things simply by their right 



ducts for the Southern market. Meanwhile, when 
slavery should be taken out of politics, and the South 
left tranquil and secure to appreciate it and to deal 
with it on its own merits and its own truths, political, 
social, economical, ethnological, and moral, its solution 
will work itself out in nature's own way. By the 
reform proposed, there will be no artificial stimulus to 
its propagation, no sectional political interests, no 
great parties anxious to promote its e^ctension as a 
means of power in the Confederation, whether for the 
sake of ascendancy, as charged against the South, or 
of self-defence, as asserted by itself. Undisturbed 
by outside interference, unmixed with politics, pre- 
sidencies, and patronage, the great principles of 
right and of truth, through which Providenc^ works 
out in human affairs the true policy of nature, 
will have fair play and free scope. Whether, then, 
confirmation of the present Southern belief in the 
natural fitness and goodness of the slavery of the 
inferior to the superior race shall be the result — or 
ultimate termination of it on self-conviction, through 
some gradual and voluntary process— or modification 
and mitigation of the institution, through further do- 
mestic guarantees, education, and serf-attachment to 
the soil — ^the Almighty will better direct than either 
John Browns or Chicago platform politicians. The 
great truth for the North to learn is that we are a 
confederation as well as a nation, and the former as 
much as the latter. If we woidd remain the latter, 
we must not forget that we are also the former. The 



former character involves as its indispensable condition 
toleration of diiferences, equality of rights, and reci- 
procity of respect. We have now a simple choice to 
make between a vain and impracticable Abolitionism 
and the grand reality of Reunion. Let but the people 
of the North, I repeat, get a fair chance for a clear 
vote upon that choice — and they will get it at the 
next Presidential election, if not before — and I have 
no fear of the summary and sweeping result. 


So much, then, for the obstacles in our way. They are 
many, they are great, but they are not insuperable. The 
alternative evils and dangers of persisting in war and 
war done are still greater to both sides. The South 
hopes to tire out the North, as England was tired out 
by the Colonies in the Revolution. But it took seven 
years for that result. The outlet of the Mississippi and 
the Gulf are of importance too vital to the North- West, 
the commercial connexion of the South too important to 
the whole North, for the latter to give up the struggle, 
once thus begun, till after an exhaustion that years 
alone can produce. 

If any foreign powers should intervene, now that 
the Northern harbours are impregnable to all the 
navies in the world, by means of Iron and great guns, 
it would but kindle hotter and higher the flame of 
the war passion. 


Ruinous to the North, this will be still more so to 
the South. The Southern ports might be relieved 
from blockade, and the Northern troops be compelled 
to abandon their points on the coast, but the war 
would rage for years by means of invading armies and 
river flotillas. There would be no peace and no pros- 
perity throughout the South. Further and further 
the exasperation and the necessities of war would 
impel the Northern Government in the direction of 
tampering with slavery. It is needless to advert to 
the position of the Southern cotton monopoly at the 
end of several years of such war. 

The North meanwhile would suffer little less in 
interrupted prosperity, and Feliop piled upon Ossa of 
public debt. When all organized military resistance 
on the part of the South should be broken down by 
defeat in the field and by occupation of the com- 
manding points, capitals and rivers — when even the 
worse warfare of vanishing guerilla bands shall have 
come to an end — and sullen passiveness shall have 
succeeded, what kind of government can be main- 
tained over the Southern States ? 

Can they be governed like Hungary, or Venice, or 
Poland ? 

How can they be forced to elect senators and repre- 
sentatives to Congress ? 

How can the Federal taxes be levied in commu- 
nities where no one will buy or bid at tax sales P 

How can the official machinery of the Federal 
Government be made to work, amidst a population 


where every man will be a personal enemy of every 
Federal functionary, where the women will not speak 
to them, and where the children will tell them to 
wait till they are grown ? 

This social atmosphere of hate as a repellant force 
will be stronger than all the armies now in the field. 
Apart from the cost and the other causes of imprac- 
ticability, it will be morally impossible before the 
public opinion of the world, before the very reacting 
conscience of the North, to maintain such government 
in the teeth of our own fundamental axiom that govern- 
ments "derive their just powers only from the consent of 
the governed.*' And this under the forms of republican 
confederation ! Reconciliation will then have become 
impossible. It is not yet so. But the opportunity is 
flying. Every day of war, mere war, fierce, vindictive, 
and coercive in spirit, besides its accumulation of debt 
and suspension of commerce, increases enormously 
the difiiculty of this task, to which, nevertheless, the 
North must needs come at last. 


In revising this letter, I omit much that had been 
written in reproach of the faults and follies of both 
sides ; of both the Republicans and the Democratic 
party at the North, of the Administration, and, on the 
other hand, of the South. All that, is better now 
omitted. It is not parties nor men that I desire, now 


uselessly, to attack. The whole chaos of confused 
right and wrong has -grown insensibly out of the 
working of a system; a system whose influences have 
created and moulded parties ; given them their doc- 
trines, characters, tendencies, and passions ; and en- 
tangled us all in complications in which different 
parties, with equal honesty and kindred patriotism, 
have seen opposite duties, and have thus pressed on, 
or rather been pressed on, farther and farther into 
situations in which all have worked together, though 
in antagonistic action, to destroy the Union, to soak 
with hlood its once peaceful fields, to accumulate pub- 
lic debt which the sweat and toil of many generations 
will be hard tasked to pay, and, worst evil of all, to 
embitter the minds and hearts of millions against 
milUons, section against section, to a degree which 
constitutes the hardest part of the problem now to be 
solved. I repeat that what I blame is that which 1 
may call our excessive party system^ not the men nor 
the parties; the system which has divided us into two 
great schools of doctrine — which has generated our 
two huge national parties in perpetual violent struggle 
for the prize of the Presidency and the patronage — 
which has so deeply corrupted our politics, in spite of 
the really universal leaven of patriotism. The defects 
in the Constitution to which these results are clearly 
traceable, these are what I wish to see reformed, as 
they could be, easily and effectually. And we are 
precisely now at the point at which that reform, while 
good in itself, and necessary for the future permanence 


of any large confederation among us, is precisely 
adapted to the object of serving now as a basis for 
honourable pacification, and for a true and cordial 
reunion. On the basis of such a reform and such a 
reunion as is here feebly advocated, deep as are the 
feelings and the convictions which prompt the humble 
effort, we can all afford to give and take reciprocal 
amnesty for the errors, the political crimes if you will, 
of the wretched past ; errors and crimes more the fatal 
fruits, I repeat, of a system, than any results of evil 
meaning or evil intention. And on that ground, wiser 
and better though sadder men than before, we may 
all meet again in the renewed fraternity of a common 
nationality and common patriotism. 


A few words in conclusion will suffice to indicate 
the mode of proceeding adapted to bring about this 
blessed consummation. 

If Mr. Lincoln indeed would take up the idea of 
Reconciliation on the basis of Constitutional Reform, 
he, with the mighty powers of the Presidency, could 
do more towards it than any living man, or combina- 
tion of men ; and thereby, as the Regenerator, write 
his name in history side by side with that of the 
Father of his Country. But this is too much to hope 
for. My only hope is in the Democratic party of the 
North, acting in unison with the Conservative Repub- 


lican real friends of the Union. I do not call upon 
them to relax their support of the war, since they are 
now iu it, but during the course of the coming summer 
there roust be a practical suspension of active hostili- 
ties in the hot South. Within that time, by proper 
effort, may be developed a manifestation of public 
sentiment and opinion at the North by which the real 
work would be done, and its result^ assured, even in 
advance of those forms of legislative action which 
would then remain necessary to carry them into 

Let the Democratic party, fused with the Conservative 
Republicans into a Reunion Party ^ take the ground of 
conciliation by means of reform ; reform adequate for 
redress and guarantee. Let it insist on the policy, not 
of driving the South back into the Union at the point of 
the bayonet, but upon that of opening wide the door 
of opportunity and invitation to honourable and volun- 
tary return, through this sole adequate means towards 
that result.* Let it insist upon the assembling of a 
National Convention for the amendment of the Consti- 
tution, with a view to honourable reconciliation. Let 
it consolidate itself upon this position with unanimity 
and determination. Let it agitate this question with 

* It would even be a wise act (though I do not go so far as to 
propose it) to give the public pledge that if, ten years after such 
Reunion on the basis of the Constitution reformed, the South should 
still desire separation^ and manifest that wish by some peaceful and 
constitutional mode, it should not then be opposed with force, satis- 
factory guarantees being furnished for the free navigation of the 
Mississippi, &o. 


thorough public discussion in every Northern periodical 
and meetings in every Northern village, and then 
make this the single great issue of all the elections of 
the summer and autumn. Let one uniform monster 
National Petition to Congress be signed throughout the 
North in favour of a National Convention for Recon- 
ciliation. If such a course should be carried out with 
the vigour and combination of effort requisite to suc- 
cess, its results would compel the Administration and 
its party in Congress to concede the great point of the 
National Convention. 

No matter though Sojuthem papers or representative 
persons should in the meantime declare that it would 
all be of no avail, and that under no circumstances, 
on no terms, on no reform of the Constitution, would 
they ever return into reunion with ns. Such declara- 
tions are to be expected. The real question will be. 
What will the Reunion party at the South feel, and 
think, and do, after this basis shall have been furnished 
by the North, for it to stand upon and develop and 
assert itself upon ; nay, what will the very ultra anti- 
reunion party at the South itself do, when they shall 
be pressed between the practical alternatives of such 
reunion and indefinite continuance of the war? Let 
the good work be but well and fully done on our 
side, and I have no fear of the ultim'ate result on the 

If this great manifestation on the part of the Demo- 
cratic-Conservative-Reunion party of the North can 
but be developed through the course of the coming 


summer, so as to produce the hoped-for results in the 
autumn elections, especially those of the State legis* 
latures, an armistice would then necessarily follow till 
after the meeting of the contemplated National Con- 

After such an armistice, no further drop of blood 
would flow again. The reconciliation once secured in 
the minds and hearts of the people, its legal consum- 
mation by accession of all the States, North and South, 
one after the other, to the reformed Constitution, would 
inevitably follow. Then indeed would the Union stand 
firmer and grander, and safer for all time than ever 

A Central Committee of Reconciliation and Reunion 
on the basis of constitutional Reform in the city of New 
York, suggests itself naturally as the most ready and 
efficient mainspring of such a movement, to start and 
propagate it by addresses to North and South, and by 
correspondence for the purpose of stimulating the self- 
creation of affiliated committees in all the other States, 
counties, cities, and towns of the North. Some better 
mode of action may be suggested, or may indeed have 
been already initiated, by others among the many 
thousands at the North whose minds and hearts must 
have been deeply stirred with impulses, analogous to 
those which have prompted this humble effort. 

I have ventured, my dear General, thus to address 
to you this letter; though having no other grounds 
for counting on your sympathy and concurrence, with 


some, at least of its ideas, except those derived from 
the memory of those better days of our country, when 
we were both accustc med to view public affairs in the 
light of the same general principles — eadem ^entire de 
republica. What I have written, out of my deepest 
convictions and deepest feelings, may be ineffectual 
for any good ; may indeed pass unheard amidst the 
thunderings of civil war and the fiercer clamours of 
its passions. Detained away from home in a foreign 
land, to my own inexpressible regret, by circumstances 
constituting a compulsion absolutely insuperable, this 
is all that it is in my power to do of a citizen's duty for 
the good of his country, in this hour of her bleeding 

Lisbon, Maiy, 1862. 


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